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A Famous Woman Joins the Geek Club

December 2, 2010

I spend a lot of my time volunteering in the community across Oregon, mostly because I like to do stuff outside of work.  I find myself in classrooms quite a bit, especially where I think I can influence kids to be engineers or otherwise aspire to technical jobs (the official term is STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  A lot of my focus is on the young ladies in the class, since there is generally a dearth of females in engineering (present blog excluded, mind you…).  I have a simple theory: the more girls that go into engineering, the more likely it is that boys go into engineering.

So, fresh from the Register:

Parents who want to inspire their daughters to aspire to something more than make-up, fashion and interior design can now opt for Computer Engineer Barbie, the latest edition to Mattel’s plastic figurine.

This particular version is the result of the 2009 Barbie Global Career Survey, which we discussed earlier this year. While ‘News Anchor’ came out tops, Computer Engineer Barbie won the ‘popular vote’ conducted online.

A couple things.  First, I think this is good.  I’m not a huge Barbie guy… I grew up in a time and place when boys weren’t supposed to be into dolls.  With that, showing people who are into Barbie that being a geek isn’t all that bad is a sign that technology careers are on the rise.  Mattel likely would not be doing this unless there was some desire for people to buy it.  So it’s great that geek is chic, so to speak.

Second, note that this was a “popular vote” decision. Again, Mattel went with their wallet (which businesses are supposed to do), but they did it because the people called for it.  That’s cool in a variety of ways.

I hope this is an item that moves pretty well in the market, and that we get some more toys out there.  Any emphasis on making STEM more interesting to young girls is only going to encourage more interest in future careers.  And that’s good for girls, and boys, and engineering.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2010 10:58 am

    And Barbie has seen some screen time recently, playing something of a ditz in [i]Toy Story 3[/i]. She improves during the course of the film. While hardly credible as an engineer in that role, at least she is in front of audiences again.

    I seem to recall an Astronaut Barbie decades ago, but not a Test Pilot Barbie.

    The software development business, which I’ve been in since before the PC was invented, seemed like an ideal place for women to excel — it should have been a gender neutral occupation, as no heavy lifting is involved. Nevertheless, it became male dominated pretty quickly. Disappointing.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

    • December 2, 2010 11:52 am

      Best mainframe admins I’ve met have been female. Not sure what about mainframe admin requires patience and more linear thinking, but it shows.

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