"I love encouraging young women to embrace the sciences,” says Mayim Bialik, the actress who plays Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist, on The Big Bang Theory. Bialik obtained her PhD in neuroscience and stands as a role model for young women interested in pursuing a future in STEM. Her New York Times bestselling book, Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular, serves as a guide for young women to be exactly that: strong, smart, and spectacular.

At an early age, girls are often discouraged from participating in STEM subjects. Changing the discourse surrounding women in STEM — and providing young girls the encouragement and access they need to succeed in these fields — will help reduce the gender gap that unfortunately still exists. “It’s an incredibly enlightening way to view the world once you’ve been trained in STEM,” says Bialik. “It’s a smart career choice and it’s a creative and exciting lifestyle to be a scientist.”

How to encourage young girls in STEM

Invite your daughter to ask questions and empower her curiosity in STEM from a young age. Taking her to science museums or enrolling her in after-school programming provides an outlet to grow, learn, and build confidence. By setting a strong foundation early on, young girls will be more likely to take an interest in STEM during school. Most of all, allowing girls to explore their interests in STEM will give them the boost of confidence needed to progress in these fields later in life as a career.

Seeking out role models can inspire your daughter to achieve her goals as well. “It is so important for girls to see real role models who aren’t timid about being smart and pursuing a career in STEM,” Bialik says. In her younger years as the lead actress in the 90s TV show Blossom, Bialik had a dental student tutor her in biology while on set. That tutor was the woman who first inspired Bialik to become a scientist. “She’s now a surgeon and mom of four; she’s my inspiration! It only takes one person to build a young girl’s confidence and inspire her to believe she can do it too."