Dana Scully is a strong female character from the tv show The X-Files. She’s an FBI agent and a medical doctor, she’s the foil to her partner, Fox Mulder who is an FBI agent and not a medical doctor. Dana Scully wears the pants in the partnership. She is the logical one, Mulder is the emotional one. Mulder wants to believe, Scully needs evidence.
More than two decades after the show premiered in 1993 the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media conducted a study that sheds light on how powerful Scully’s character was for young girls watching the show.
It turns out that regular viewers of The X-Files who were female 50% more likely to have a career in STEM.
Of the study, the Geena Davis Institute said “The role of media is to inspire our cultural beliefs or our societal norms, and when you look at 63% of the women who were familiar with Dana Scully said that she increased their belief in the importance of STEM, that’s really a societal norm shift.”
The study viewed Scully’s character as a breaker of norms and an inspiration for a generation of women who saw a future represented on TV that they may not have if it were not for The X-Files. “When you look back at the 1990s, Scully was a woman who had not yet been depicted in TV, and as a result of that influenced generations of women and girls to go into the field to science.”
Because of Scully’s success, strong female characters were written for other shows, because writers knew that kind of character could be a big hit with audiences. And, because of it’s enduring popularity, an eleventh season of The X-Files is now airing — a total of 25 years after it’s inception.