Barbie's had a multitude of jobs in her lifetime. Her latest career is inspiring kids to dream of a future in STEM.
She's been an architect and a teacher. She's been a firefighter, a lifeguard, and a presidential candidate. She's even been a Canadian Mountie.
But there's one thing that Barbie hasn't been — a robotics engineer. Mattel's newest doll is changing all that.
Barbie's latest iteration has an important goal: Get young girls to grow an interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
While the doll has some cool accessories right in the box — goggles, a laptop, a cute little robot toy — its most meaningful feature is a suite of coding lessons targeted toward teaching kids how to use logic and critical thinking to solve problems.
Mattel has also partnered with Black Girls Code, an organization that's focused on exposing girls and young women of color to the "digital space" in order to transform them into the leaders of tomorrow. The toy manufacturer will be providing the org with a grant of support and enough dolls to give away at robotics expos hosted by Black Girls Code around the country.
Photo via Mattel.
Inspiring young women to explore careers in STEM is more important than ever.
Although more and more girls are becoming interested in working in the tech sector, women and other marginalized groups are still greatly underrepresented in the field.
According to recent stats, women make up 47% of the workforce in the U.S. but only hold 24% of jobs in STEM. And though women make up almost half of all college graduates, only 25% hold degrees in STEM fields, a problem that's less about "career choice" and much more about the fact that young women haven't been traditionally as encouraged to pursue degrees in tech as young men.
As two girls point out in a new ad campaign for Barbie: "If girls can't see women doing these jobs, how will we know we can?"
The doll will be available in four different ethnicities — so "as many girls as possible see themselves," according to Lisa McKnight, Barbie's general manager and senior vice president — and her fashion choices will authentically mirror what an actual engineer would wear while on the job . That means jeans and sneakers as opposed to slinky evening gowns and high heels.
Kids are already loving the new doll.
Speaking to CBS, 15-year-old Kimora Oliver, who's been working with Black Girls Code, gushed over the fact that the new doll looks like her and shares her interests.
"I remember when I was younger and I used to have Barbies and they used to have a purses and dogs. I would be like, 'I want to be just like that! I want to get this purse and everything,'" Oliver said. "I think other girls will see this and be like, 'I want to get in tech too!'"
Let's hope that excitement for STEM spreads through young girls worldwide!
We were not compensated to write this article — we'd tell you if we were! — we just really loved this doll and what it stands for.