11/19/2014

Oh, Barbie.

So apparently there was a book about Barbie being a computer engineer published in 2010 that ended up being the topic de jour in my Facebook feed today. Why did it take four years to be noticed? Well, it's a Barbie book so I'm guessing that it's not generally being read by hundreds of thousands of people. Mattel has apologized.

I was considering putting my own two cents in about how that book should look, but in actuality, there's a site where you can improve the book yourself. And this is one delightful use of said site. So really, my work here is done.

I will go ahead and add my voice to the many others out there, however, who have to wonder how Mattel--even in 2010--managed to allow such a thing to be published. It's hard enough for women in the sciences (and in computer science in particular.) Do we really need Barbie playing into the stereotypes? I mean, sure, it's nice that she's *trying* to design a computer game, but do we even have to go so far as to assume that games designed by girls have cute, fluffy robot puppies in them? I mean, really. If you look at the game design world and the kick-ass women who work in that field, they're not all about the fluffy robot puppies. (I suppose it's nice that it wasn't a heavily endowed, bikini-clad robot puppy, but perhaps that's a post for another day. Because as far as sexism goes, the game industry has a way to come themselves if they want to move out of the era of misogyny.)

But more to the point, in my mind, I continue to wonder why we look to things (things! As in TOYS!) like Barbie to be role models for our children. Can they help teach good manners and morals. Sure. Should they be role models? No. Especially when there are so many fabulous REAL role models that you can use if you want to take the time to talk to your kids and encourage them to read outside the sphere of this week's hot toy.

So, without further ado, a brief list of suggestions for role models to investigate if you're looking to encourage your daughter in the sciences. (And yes, I'm being lazy and linking to Wikipedia, but you can find better, deeper resources from there and it's a handy place to get an idea bout whether or not you care to explore further.)

The point is...we don't need Barbie if we're looking for inspiring influences for women in science. They're already out there, working, innovating, and combating the ridiculous stereotype that Barbie perpetuates in the first place.

The next Barbie book I hope they publish? Barbie Gets Medically Necessary Breast Reduction Surgery to Save Her Back.

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