The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson is a STEM superhero


The X-Files’ Dr. Dana Scully inspired a whole generation of young women to get involved in STEM subjects because she made science look cool.

You might hear people talking about young girls and STEM and wonder what they’re talking about. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEM is a segment of the core curriculum where girls and young women have traditionally been underrepresented over the years, but for a generation of women growing up in the 1990s, it was The X-Files’ Dr. Dana Scully who provided much needed inspiration for young women to become involved in science, making her a STEM superhero.

The X-Files (1993-2002, 2017-present) was unlike anything that was on television at the time. I remember my mom telling me to watch the show. It premiered when I was 13 and it reminded me a lot of The Twilight Zone, which was another show my mom introduced me to at a young age. As soon as I started watching The X-Files, I was hooked. The show wasn’t only about aliens and conspiracies, but it forced viewers to think outside the box about everyday occurrences.

I loved Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and as someone who has always wanted to believe in alien life, I found myself relating to him much more than I ever related to his partner, Agent Dana Scully. But Agent Scully, who was also a medical doctor, fascinated me because she had a completely objective way of looking at things.

There is a big push these days to get girls and young women interested in the STEM subjects, but STEM didn’t exist back in the 1990s. Sure, the subjects were nothing new and were already being taught, but there was no push to get girls involved in the sciences. It was shows like The X-Files, and later CSI, that really started capturing the interest of young women who would go on to study science and engineering in college.

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With more episodes of The X-Files ordered for 2018, we have another opportunity for young women to follow in Dana Scully’s footsteps. Not only that, but many of the young women who were inspired by her during the show’s original run are now working in the sciences. That means that Gillian Anderson’s alter ego is already a STEM superhero.