Barbie has received a lot of attention since her birth in 1959. She became an instant role model for younger girls, with her first career choice being a fashion model.
Since then, Barbie has switched professions as easily as a game of musical chairs: 124 in total. She became an astronaut (years before a man even landed on the moon), a nurse, a gymnast, and even an American Idol winner.
Her latest career of choice is a computer engineer.
You might think sitting at a desk all day writing code is less than glamourous. You’re right, although the programmers I work with have a series of inside jokes and cryptic IM status updates I fail to understand. I assume they prefer I never figure it out.
But much to Mattel’s surprise, people wanted to see Barbie go geek. A month-long voting campaign launched in January on Barbie.com brought in over 600,000 votes. Anyone could vote, and although “Anchorwoman Barbie” was the choice for young girls, the rest of the world just wanted to see Barbie put on some nerdy glasses and talk l33t.
How Did Geek Go Chic?
I’m a little upset. Back when I was in high school, my inner geek was abhorred rather than embraced. I hid her behind the latest trends and pop music.
Now there are even websites like Geek Girl Camp, dedicated to “empowering women through technology, one geek at a time.” The site is hot pink and outrageously girly, but covers topics like “Mac Tips” and “Photoshop.”
You can find geek inspired clothing, or use Geek 2 Geek to find a romantic partner or friend who shares your particularly quirky ways. Someone who appreciates Star Wars, or who can also snort their way through a Monty Python movie.
In reality, the geek movement started back in the 80s with Family Matters and Steve Urkel (Jaleel White). That young man’s ability to turn a simple task into a dangerous fiasco was outstanding, as was his complete disregard for color coordination, and his passion for cheese.
The geek movement has been here all along, it seems. The Internet just gave it a push.
Why Barbie Has The Ability To Change Girls’ Futures
Barbie’s geek look includes a ponytail, black leggings, a shirt that says “Barbie” in binary code, eyeglasses, and a Bluetooth headset. And of course she’s still tall, thin, blonde, and hot. She even comes with a top secret code used to unlock online games at Barbie.com.
Mattel says, “Having Barbie as a new ambassador for female computer engineers can help inspire a new generation of girls to hone in on their computer skills and become part of a growing profession.”
Why is this so important? According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women are desperately needed in the computer and information sciences field. Working women geeks are actually on the decline: in 1985, women received 37% of computer science degrees; in 2008, that number was just 18%.
The only major concern is how the guy geeks’ productivity will fare once the girl geeks start taking over.
Do you think Barbie has the ability to encourage girls to seek more male-dominated careers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.