For nearly 60 years, Barbie has been telling girls they can be anything they want to be, thanks to the 200-plus careers held by the most famous doll in the world. Now, Mattel is going a step further by not just releasing a new career for the doll, but actually helping young girls take the necessary steps to one day achieving that career. Welcome Robotics Engineer Barbie, which launches today, and is designed to interest girls in a particular STEM job that many might find unfamiliar to them.
It's not the first time that Barbie has explored a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—we're all familiar with astronaut Barbie—but it is the first time the doll will come with a robot that you can bend and reconfigure (as well as a laptop) as her main accessory. If you're unfamiliar with the work that a robotics engineer does though, you're not alone. That's why Barbie has partnered with Tynker—the gaming platform that helps kids learn to code—to help young girls understand the careers available to them as robotics engineers (like designing robots to explore areas where humans cannot, such as the ocean or planets).
"We wanted to shine a light on this underrepresented career and field for women," Lisa McKnight, Barbie's General Manager and Senior Vice President, tells Glamour. "Only 24% of STEM jobs are held by women, and we felt that Barbie, with the platform that we have, was the perfect opportunity to do more in this space."
The doll will come in four ethnicities—African American, Asian, Caucasian and Latina—so "as many girls as possible see themselves [in this doll]," McKnight says. Mattel and Barbie are also partnering with Black Girls CODE robotics workshops to reach young girls interested in developing skills in the field. In addition, Barbie is collaborating with information science professor and coder, Casey Fiesler, PhD, to release Code Camp for Barbie and Friends, an e-book available on Amazon that will introduce the concepts of code.
But being that this is Barbie, fashion is an important aspect to the doll's identity, and one that McKnight is thrilled to debut. "The details of her fashion are all about authenticity," she says. For example: Barbie's hair is in a ponytail so she doesn't have any distractions, and she's wearing sneakers since the job requires her to be on her feet, constantly working constantly with equipment. "We wanted to make sure her fashion was reflective of what someone in the profession would really be wearing," McKnight says. In fact, the Barbie design team worked with a female professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to ensure the doll's presentation was accurate.
"All [Barbie's] careers are about inspiring the limitless potential in every girl," McKnight says. "We have a platform that can be leveraged to do good, and we want to use our voice to have a call to action to inspire the next generation of girls."