One of the questions I get asked most often is, “Is it fun being on The Big Bang Theory?” I am happy to report that I always answer a resounding, “Yes!” But as fun as it is to be Amy Farrah Fowler, it’s more fun to watch the looks on girls’ faces when they find I’m a scientist in real life! In fact, this past hiatus from filming The Big Bang Theory was spent encouraging girls to embark in careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (known collectively as STEM) during National HerWorld Month.
My hiatus was spent, in fact, partnering with DeVryUniversity to speak at its HerWorld event in New York City. Throughout the month of March, more than 7,000 high school girls participated in similar conventions all over the country. HerWorld feature workshops, hands-on activities, and lectures from women in STEM. The idea is to provide information about STEM careers and to give young girls positive role models to learn from so that they can picture themselves as the next generation of scientists, techies, engineers, and mathematicians.
Most of the girls I spoke to were not old enough to remember me from “Blossom,” the 90s sitcom I was on for five years, but I think pretty much all of them knew me as Amy Farrah Fowler! I spoke to them about my background: how three of my four grandparents were immigrants to New York, how my parents grew up in the Bronx and became public school teachers, how I started acting as a tween and eventually left acting to pursue a B.S. and eventually a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA, consistent with my family’s emphasis on education and academic achievement.
Although I returned to acting after my second son was born and I had completed my Ph.D., I emphasized to the girls I spoke to that a background in STEM never leaves you no matter if you stay home as a mom, work on a TV show, or decide to pursue other careers. I try to drive home the point that STEM training is not important simply because the fastest growing job markets require a background in STEM and that training is likely to set them on a course for solid employment and job security.
Being a scientist or an engineer means that you have a broad and exciting platform from which to view the world. I never thought I would be a scientist until one amazing tutor of mine–a young woman from an immigrant family studying biology–helped me gain the confidence and proficiency to pursue my degrees. I cannot thank her enough for giving me that confidence and skill set, because my world is more colorful, more rich, and more beautiful as a scientist than I could have ever dreamed of.
I hope that National HerWorld Month inspires a new generation of STEM women who can bring so much to the academic world, the workforce, and our communities and the world at large. I am grateful to DeVry University for the opportunity to speak about my passion for STEM and for the chance to share HerWorld with these high school girls!
To find more information on HerWorld and STEM education resources, visit www.devry.edu/stemready. Mayim Bialik partnered with DeVry University on National HerWorld Month and was compensated as part of the partnership.