The Scully Effect - I Want to Believe in STEM

Saturday, June 22, 4:15 pm

Thanks to a recent study conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the "Scully Effect" posited by fans of The X-Files has now been proven. The survey results showed that the character of Agent Dana Scully was an inspiration and a trailblazer—63% of women surveyed said that Scully gave them the confidence to believe that they too could succeed in a field that was male-dominated—demonstrating that gender parity in media can result in social change.

Geena Davis


Actor, Founder & Chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Academy Award winner Geena Davis is one of Hollywood's most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks.

Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the offbeat dog trainer Muriel Pritchett in Lawrence Kasdan's The Accidental Tourist. She was again nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance in Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise, in which she co-starred with Susan Sarandon. Davis went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of baseball phenomenon Dottie Hinson's in A League of Their Own.

Earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC's hit show Commander in Chief.

Davis made her feature film debut starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. She went on to star in such films as The Fly, Beetlejuice, Angie, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Stuart Little.

Few have achieved such remarkable success in as many different fields as Davis has: she is not only an Oscar and Golden Globe-winning actor, but a world-class athlete (at one time the nation's 13th-ranked archer), a member of the genius society Mensa, and is now recognized for her tireless advocacy of women and girls nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the Founder and Chair of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters—and reduce gender stereotyping — in media made for children 11 and under.

Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and is an official partner of UN Women. She is also co-founder and chair of the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), whose mission is to champion women and diverse voices in all forms of media.

Geena Davis and festival co-founder Trevor Drinkwater founded the Bentonville Film Festival in 2015 to champion women in media. BFF's mission is to encourage content creation in film and other forms of media that reflects the diverse — and half female—world we live in. BFF proactively supports content creation by women and diverse voices with a platform to showcase their work and, with the help of our partners, is the only film competition in the world to guarantee theatrical, television, digital and retail home entertainment distribution for its winners. The Festival takes place in early May in Bentonville, Arkansas and is research based and commercially driven.

Most recently, Davis starred in 20th Century Fox's The Exorcist; a serialized psychological thriller based on the 1971 book of the same name, Marjorie Prime, based on the Award-Winning play and Dear Angelica, one of the first VR narrative films from Oculus.

Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College.

Mayim Bialik


Actor, Writer, PhD

Mayim Bialik currently stars on the hit CBS comedy, The Big Bang Theory as Amy Farrah Fowler, for which she has received two Critics Choice Awards, four Emmy Award nominations and a SAG Award nomination. From playing the young version of Bette Midler's character in Beaches to her turn as Blossom Russo in the iconic 90’s sitcom Blossom, Bialik has appeared in numerous beloved roles throughout her dynamic acting career.

An acclaimed author, Bialik has written two #1 New York Times best sellers, Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular, and the recently released Boying Up: How to Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant. She has also written a parenting book, Beyond the Sling, and a cookbook, Mayim's Vegan Table. Bialik has recently dedicated her skills as a writer, actress, neuroscientist and mother to driving the lifestyle website, which she started in 2015.

Following the end of Blossom, Bialik left acting for twelve years to earn a BS in Neuroscience from UCLA in 2000 with a minor in Hebrew & Jewish Studies. She went on to complete her PhD in Neuroscience, also at UCLA, and then completed her doctorate in the fall of 2007, which examined the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in adolescents with Prader-Willi syndrome. While at UCLA, Bialik was a dedicated student leader in UCLA Hillel, including conducting and writing music for UCLA's Jewish acapella group.

Bialik lives in Los Angeles with her tween and teenage sons and four adorable cats.

Dr. Erin Macdonald


Dr. Erin Macdonald (PhD, Astrophysics)

Dr. Erin Macdonald (PhD, Astrophysics) currently works as a public speaker/educator and technical consultant, assisting others with explaining complex physics and astronomy ideas to varied audiences. Her undergraduate work was dual majored in Physics with Astrophysics and Mathematics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She obtained a PhD in gravitational astrophysics from the University of Glasgow, having done research with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (resulting in the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics) on gravitational waves from dead and colliding stars and black holes.

Since leaving research in 2014, she worked as an adjunct professor and educator at the Denver Museum for Nature and Science where she grew her passion for speaking to varied crowds on a number of subjects. She has become a regular fixture at popular culture conventions across the United States (Star Trek Las Vegas, Awesome Con, etc) through teaching the science behind science fiction such as Star Trek and Mass Effect, and she started bringing these talks online with her series "Dr Erin Explains the Universe."

Erin also assists science fiction writers with their work, most recently on Orbital Redux with writer/director Steven Calcote and actor Yuri Lowenthal. Given her background, her specialty focuses on the use of general relativity in science fiction through faster-than-light travel, artificial gravity, alternate universes and more, and after teaching extensively in classrooms and at museums, she is well-versed in most fields of astronomy and physics.