When we think of the X-Files, we often think of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. And when we think of Dana Scully, we often think of an FBI suit, a flashlight, and a gun. But that’s not the image everyone has. Some have the image of Dana Scully in a lab, performing an autopsy, analyzing the contents of an Erlenmeyer flask, or simply making a very reasonable argument as to the non-existence of alien life on planet Earth. It is a sign of the under-representation of women in STEM, that the Dana Scully created the Scully Effect. And what is the Scully Effect? Here’s more from the UK Science Museum:
A survey by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2018 showed that 63% of women surveyed said that watching Scully increased their belief in the importance of STEM, with 43% then considering working in STEM fields, 27% studying in STEM fields and 24% going on to work in STEM fields. The show’s impact has been so big that the rise in women in science is often called ‘The Scully Effect’.
Television shows have the ability to inspire beyond that of many other formats. While you may see a female scientist occasionally on the news or in the newspaper, The X Files gave us the chance to see a female scientist on tv every week for 45 minutes. Scully conducted rigorous research and worked in labs or morgues long before shows like CSI. Over the course of the show the show you see her constantly confronting dangerous situations with fearlessness professionalism while basing her beliefs purely in what her scientific research can prove.
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