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Posts Tagged ‘Dana Scully’

I was thinking about Dana Scully this morning while getting ready for work, and what an inspiration she was to me when I was a teenager. I was reminiscing about my teenage years and my daily bus ride home from the coast to my home in a small town among rainforest on a mountain. And thinking about those times, Scully popped into my head. Her character on the X-Files inspired me to pursue science, and specifically forensic science (and forensic pathology) as a career. My career path took an alternative path and headed towards microbiology, research and now administration in scientific and university environments. But I still credit the figure of Scully – analytical, scientific and strong, for me being a scientist. And as a teenage girl who knew she didn’t look like and was not like everyone else, she was an inspiration – a pretty redhead who wore suits, carried a gun and used her intelligence and knowledge, and not her looks and sexuality, to succeed.

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I borrowed a book from the university library entitled, Science, Technology and Culture by David Bell. And I was pleased to see a few mentions of the X-Files. I was even more delighted to see a short paragraph about Dana Scully and what her character represented / conveyed. The paragraph read, “…. one aspect of the show that was seen positively, at least by some people, was its depiction of a female scientist in the central character Dana Scully (Wilcox & Williams, 1996). In playfully upturning the association of males and scientific rationality, Scully was the show’s sceptic and scientist, a foil to Fox Mulder’s ‘irrational’ belief in alien abduction and government conspiracy. An extratextual effect of this narrative commented on at the time was that it reopened the door to science for girls and women who had previously been excluded or had themselves from education or employment in ‘male’ science.’ For myself, seeing Scully as a female scientist and being rational and analytical spoke volumes to me. It was an affirmation of being a female scientist and showed to me that I too could do it. And Scully provided inspiration and a career path at the time – forensic science (which I didn’t end up pursuing). For me she was a great role model and the X-Files greatly stimulated my interest in science and my own rational thought and critical thinking. Book – Bell, David (2006) Science, Technology and Culture, Open University Press, McGraw-Hill Education, Maidenhead, UK.

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Dana Scully

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I was watching the X-Files movie last night on television, and it took me back to my teenage years and my immense admiration and fascination with Dana Scully. She was a strong, intelligent, beautiful, professional scientist and FBI agent. She was my idol. I wanted to be a Forensic Pathologist like her. I wanted to solve crimes using science. She inspired me to want to study science. And watching the movie last night, viewing it from a more mature angle, l realised what a fantastic role model she was. Empowered, intelligent, tough, holds her own, a feminist (or close). And last but not least, as a redhead (not natural though) I thought it was so fantastic that this smart sexy scientist was a redhead! I certainly would use Dana Scully as an example of a good female scientist role model (and as redheaded role model too!)

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Dana Scully

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To follow on from my previous post – I am still digesting the different images of women in science.

To be completely honest, as a lesbian scientist who likes a bit of glamour, I quiet like the idea of a sexy female scientist in a lab coat. Though I guess I would see her from two different angles – the smart, intelligent, professional scientist and the attractive woman. And I don’t mean to sound conceited, but I would view her with respect and acknowledge her profession along with her attractiveness.

I think programs such as CSI do sexualise the image of a female scientist and cynically I think they do that to draw in a male audience (and with it a few women as well). Although these female scientists are professionals and are seemingly respected by their peers, their immaculate grooming, high heels etc do still portray a different image.

When I was working in lab I always wore make up and took pride in my clothes (I went through a Goth / alternative / 1940’s phase), but never did I feel (and hopefully my colleagues and supervisor thought the same way) this distracted from my professional and academic knowledge and my ability to conduct my experiments. Maybe this is the image that is meant to be portrayed in CSI and the like, but somehow I don’t think so.

Abbey from NCIS is a different matter. I think she is one of the best representations of a female scientist in current TV shows. She is a funky, different, goth girl, but she has a fantastic analytical brain, can solve any forensic mystery and holds her own amongst the males in NCIS. Her character should be promoted more as a positve role model and young women who watch this show should be encouraged to follow a career like hers. Hell she could be used to promote science and forensic science studies at universities across the world!

I’ve also written before about who inspired me to become a scientist – Dana Scully from the X-Files. But she too is an excellent image of an intelligent, empowered woman who has a career in medicine, forensic pathology AND law enforcement. What an awesome woman! When I think about it know, no wonder I wanted to be a forensic pathologist – I saw Scully and I wanted to be like her!

Well I didn’t end up becoming a forensic pathologist. I pursued a career in microbiology (specifically molecular microbiology to do with antibiotic resistance). After finishing a Masters degree I found myself working for a company in the engineering field. So I have taken a completely different path, but what I learnt through my uni studies have helped me get where I am.

I am hoping to break into science or medical writing, but that probably requires more study. I was reading http://amusedartichoke.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/women-in-science-the-communicators/ and was fascinated to find that women make up the majority of science writing applications. I think that is fantastic! There are female scientists out there wanting to communicate with the public about science. Awesome.

So to all those female scientists out there, keep doing what you are doing!

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Dana Scully

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When I was in high school I was inspired by a strong, smart female scientist by the name of Dana Scully to become a scientist. And after years of study I eventually did!

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