The Porth
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The Porth

The Scully Effect

Dana Katherine Scully. Illustration by Vanessa Schultz.

Case number 2139318537: Subject is a black male, 19 years old. Cause and time of death unknown. Note: total lack of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. The appearance of which suggests albinism, though the bleaching of the iris indicates a violent and unexplained reaction to a vector or environment.

The X-files is an science fiction television series created by Chris Carter, aired originally from September 10, 1993 to May 19, 2002.

The plot begins when special agent Dana Scully — a physicist, medical doctor and highly skeptical — is assigned to conduct scientific analyzes on Fox Mulder’s work in the X-Files, and thereby debunk any credits the paranormal phenomena contained in those files could possibly have. Mulder, of course, blindly believes in the existence of extraterrestrial life, and is willing to prove at any costs that the truth is out there.

Small stature, with baggy clothes and not distributing smiles to anyone who asks for it. Dana Scully, while helping to unmask some surprising government conspiracies, also showed that the famous and heavy female stereotypes are absolutely disposables when it comes to portraying a woman well. Her beauty didn’t revoke her intelligence. Her dedication, preparation and determination often ended up forcing the respect out of people who insisted on underestimating her.

Her antitheses made her more believable, more real. Despite being highly skeptical, Scully also had a deep faith in God. Although she seemed to be able to do everything, she suffered from the weight of her choices, which ended up directly impacting her personal life. Her emotional wall often crumbled around people she knew she could really trust.

These characteristics ended up influencing an entire generation of women who, inspired by such a real character, decided to pursue their own scientific careers around the world. The Scully Effect.

The data doesn’t lie: in a 2018 survey conducted in a partnership between 21th Century Fox, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, 2.000 women were recruited to test the phenomenon. All meticulously chosen by the age group that would have accompanied the series at the time it was airing, as well as those that were graduating and entering the job market at that same time.

The results? According to the study, approximately two-thirds (63%) of women working in STEM say Dana Scully was their inspiration”. Not only that, but these women also claim that the character gave them the confidence to believe that they could also succeed in an area dominated by men. In addition, 50% of the women interviewed said that their interest in STEM emerged or increased with the series, showing us the importance of work in science. [ Via THE SCULLY EFFECT: I WANT TO BELIEVE IN STEM]

Even though no research has been conducted in this direction, the truth is that as long she can be heard, Dana Katherine Scully will continue to inspire new generations of scientists around the world.



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Vanessa Schultz

Vanessa Schultz

Born and raised in Brazil, writing about mostly everything. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games with her friends.