The latest Barbie doll, due for release in October, is a computer engineer with a binary number t-shirt and matching pink laptop and cell phone headset. Her occupation was chosen after Mattel conducted a vote of Barbie admirers.
Whether you think she’s “geek chic” or feel that her highly sexualized figure and clothing sends the wrong message, the fact is that Barbie has a big impact on girls. According to Mattel, 90% of girls ages 3-10 own at least one Barbie doll and BarbieGirls.com has 18 million registered users worldwide. Like it or not, Barbie is a popular culture icon and a role model for girls.
Now, I’d rather have Barbie be a computer engineer than say “Math class is hard” (as she used to). But what I’d really prefer is for real role models to become as popular among young girls as Barbie is.
For example, DragonFlyTV’s SciGirls videos and activity guides do a great job of bringing “geek chic” to kids. The DVDs feature a group of hip, racially diverse girls from around the country having fun with science and getting down and dirty — whether it’s digging in the bogs, playing taiko drums, building a doghouse, snorkeling, or playing sports. The girls make science colorful and fun, while explaining and demonstrating science concepts and serving as real world role models for your female students.
Also, Education for Innovation posted a new video on gender equity for secondary school students. The video does an excellent job explaining how teachers can incorporate female-friendly learning style techniques into their classrooms to encourage students named Brittany, Bianca, or even Barbie to sign up for and stay in technology courses.
What do you think about the new Computer Barbie? Is she geek chic or needing a reboot?