Last month, toy manufacturer Mattel made waves with geeks everywhere with the announcement of Barbie’s newest profession. For the popular doll’s 125th occupation, Mattel consulted over half a million fans. Through Facebook and Twitter, the public was encouraged to vote Barbie’s new profession. The public has spoken and Barbie’s newest career will be as a Computer Engineer.
“Coder Barbie,” much like her other high-heeled wearing counterparts, has not avoided the usual controversy that surrounds the release of modern Barbie incarnations. Last year alone, “Burka Barbie” and “Black Barbie” kicked up heated comments all around the blogosphere as critics questioned their political correctness. Many are wondering how a computer programmer who works with binary codes and numbers all day also wears hot pink high-heels with matching glasses and laptop?
Mashable’s Rebecca Zook – a female math tutor – points out that Mattel consulted the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering when designing the doll’s newest outfit. She also asserts that “women shouldn’t feel like they have to stop being feminine to work in technology.”
Critics have cited current gender inequalities that exist within tech fields. Most feel that a blue-tooth touting blonde with pink accessories will further accentuate these inequalities. Mattel hopes that the release of Computer Engineer Barbie will “inspires a new generation of girls to explore this important high-tech industry, which continues to grow and need future female leaders.”
The release of this Barbie has definitely been a step in the direct of raising awareness of the availability of tech-related careers for all genders. What do you think – is Coder Barbie one small step for gal-geeks everywhere or does it do more for deepening gender inequalities?