The Scully Effect


X-Files is the most famous sci-fi television series, created by Cris Carter. The two main characters are dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and special agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). 

I have always been passionate about science and I loved X-Files when I was a kid, but my mother didn’t want me to watch it. My mother worked as nurse and often she worked night shifts. Those were my favorite nights because my father allowed us (my brother and I) to watch X-Files!

Dr. Dana Scully was the first female scientist I saw on TV and she has always been my favorite character of the show.

The figure of Dr. Dana Scully inspired me to become a scientist.

Accordingly to the study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, I am not the only one.

For many years, women in STEM talked about the fact that Dr. Dana Scully has been an inspiration for them and start referring to this process with the term “Scully Effect”. At the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, Gillian Anderson said she and the production were aware of the Scully Effect, because over the years they received hundreds of letters of women stating they started a career in STEM thanks to dr. Dana Scully.

Nobody really investigated that, until 2018 when the 21st Century Fox asked the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to discover whether this phenomenon was real or not.

They demonstrated that the “Scully Effect” was real: women who watched The X-Files regularly were 50% more likely to work in STEM fields, and about 60% of the women surveyed (more than 2000) who now work in STEM considered Dr. Dana Scully a role model.

Have you ever watched X-Files?

Did you know the character of Dr. Dana Scully?

Has she been an inspiration for you?


The Geena Davis Institute Report:

Less “Big Bang Theory,” More Dana Scully: What It’s Going to Take to Lead More Girls Into Science”

“The Scully Effect: How “X-Files” Helped Mainstream Women In STEM Careers”

“Nearly Everything The X-Files’ David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson Said This Weekend”

“The New ‘X-Files’ Science Advisor Explains How the Reboot Will Stay ‘Realistic'”

Nisbet and Dudo, “Entertainment Media Portrayals and Their Effects on the Public Understanding of Science”, (2013) 10.1021/bk-2013-1139.ch020

Knowles, “A Woman’s Place Is in the Morgue: Understanding Scully in the Context of 1990s Feminism”, (2018),

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