TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The National Girls Collaborative Project has named ISU the state convening organization as part of its effort to teach girls and women about opportunities in math, science and technology-related fields.
As part of the designation, ISU will represent the national organization in Indiana and help organize conferences, events and other outreach efforts to promote opportunities for girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Indiana affiliate, known as the Indiana Girls Collaborative Project, is one of more than two dozen sites across the country serving 38 states.
"ISU is serving in the lead role for this project, but success will be measured by the quantity and quality of collaboration among many organizations throughout the state," said Bev Bitzegaio, director of outreach and student career support for ISU's College of Technology and leader of the Indiana collaborative.
ISU also will oversee the administration of $10,000 in mini-grants for programs in Indiana that serve girls, Bitzegaio said. The collaborative leadership team also includes members of several other colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations and businesses.
"The Indiana Girls Collaborative Project is a community engagement project that emphasizes the importance of collaboration in achieving the goal of informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM fields," Bitzegaio said. "Our role in this project will build valuable partnerships and provide recognition among organizations serving girls who may choose to attend Indiana State."
Bitzegaio has long been active in promoting STEM initiatives to girls and young women. Earlier this spring, she traveled to Washington, D.C., to learn more about the collaborative. Two other members of the Indiana leadership group joined her: Becky Buse, director of advocacy and community development for Girl Scouts of Central Indiana; and Patricia Crouch, a member of the board of directors for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Indiana affiliate and a professional staff member at Indiana University Bloomington.
The Girl Scout organization serves about 41,000 girls in a 45-county area and has multiple programs to teach girls about math and science initiatives. The Girl Scouts of the USA also is a partner in the national collaborative efforts, so it made sense to extend the connection to the state level, Buse said.
"It is important for all girl-serving agencies to be involved with the Indiana Girls Collaborative Project," she added. "Being not-for-profit, we are constantly looking for ways to stretch dollars to better serve our girls and working on some projects together may be a way to stretch those dollars."
The Indiana chapter of AAUW also is teaming with ISU. The national organization was an original partner with the National Girls Collaborative Project when it was created, Crouch said.
"My objective is to see girls and young women not intimidated by the STEM disciplines," she added. "If that means they ultimately choose a STEM career, that's even better."
Dottie King, president of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, has also joined the leadership team for the initiative. Since St. Mary-of-the-Woods is a women's college, faculty and staff members "have historically developed opportunities to engage girls and young women in STEM careers," King said.
"I am honored to help bring together educators, students and leaders in the public and private sector to inspire girls to explore these career paths," she added. "This project serves as a vehicle for STEM advocates to participate in meaningful collaboration with tangible outcomes."
Indiana State is already planning upcoming events as part of the initiative. On June 13, the university will host a leadership development forum. The group is also seeking to expand its leadership team, which currently includes more than 25 people from around the state serving in a variety of roles.
"I'm looking forward to expanding my network of people with similar interests and increasing the number of girls interested in STEM fields," Bitzegaio said. "I also hope that it translates to more females seeking to study in college for a profession that they might not have previously considered."
Release from ISU
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