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Barbie as a Pink (Sigh) Geek?

By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

500x_2010computerengineer There is now a Computer Engineer Barbie. This is Barbie's 126th profession (My personal fav is the paratrooper). Yea, us!  And, wow, it only took - what - 40 years?  Mattel's selection of the profession was, however, skewed a bit by adults. The little girls surveyed overwhelmingly chose anchorwoman - which is still an improvement over fashion model.

Female computer engineers who learned about the election launched a viral campaign on the Internet to get out the vote and ensure Barbie would join their ranks.

"Please help us in getting Barbie to get her Geek on!" came the appeal from the blog GeekGirlCamp.com.

As Mattel puts it: Computer engineer Barbie "won the popular vote" and anchorwoman won the girls' vote.

So, why would geek girls even care? Here's why: In 2008, women received only 18% of computer science degrees, down from 37% in 1985, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. A quick google search finds a number of proposed reasons, including the one I think makes the most sense...there are simply more jobs open to women these days.  Here's another to consider:  You can work in a wider range "techie" fields without getting an engineering degree - such as web design or product development. (Hmmm...a product developer Barbie...if they followed my example, she'd have a martini glass in one hand, probably not the best role model.)  

Like it or not - Barbie is still hugely popular - those ridiculous tippy-toe feet and all (she can only wear high heels).  Anything that can get young girls involved with computers is good, right?   Well, it can't hurt, but...couldn't they also lose all that pink and those high heels?  Sure, little girls want to play with pretty dolls, but does Barbie have to look like Hollywood's idea of a computer engineer?  And, do we really STILL need glasses to denote she's a smart woman?  I'm blonde, I'm smart, I have several computers (none pink)...and I wear contacts.

“All the girls who imagine their futures through Barbie will learn that engineers — like girls — are free to explore infinite possibilities, limited only by their imagination,” says Nora Lin, President, Society of Women Engineers. “As a computer engineer, Barbie will show girls that women can turn their ideas into realities that have a direct and positive impact on people’s everyday lives in this exciting and rewarding career.”

Like I said - it can't hurt, but that's a lot to expect from a doll.  And, I don't want to be the one trying to explain the typical IT gig to a 6-year-old. ("They stare into screens all day, type and mumble." Read More: GeekDad's 5 Ideas to Make Computer Engineer Barbie Realistic.) 

So, we've made progress.  But we've still got a long way to go.

I'm hoping for the day when this choice of profession for a doll won't make news.  And, poor Barbie can finally take off those sky-high heels.

Now, I've got to go do some semi-techie, sorta geeky work things (staring into a screen, typing and mumbling...;-)




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Nathalie Gregg

Awesome! Barbie does it again. She is continuing to teach us how to thrive in a male dominant society and keep our femininity! She knows how to Lead in Stilettos!

DeAnna Troupe

Well at least she's not saying "Math is hard".


(Hmmm...a product developer Barbie...if they followed my example, she'd have a martini glass in one hand, probably not the best role model.)

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