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Posted by on Feb 12, 2010 in Society | 4 comments

Binary Barbie: She’s A Computer Engineer

At the New York Toy Fair this morning, Mattel unveiled the results of an online campaign to pick the next in the “I Can Be” Barbie series. The winner, Barbie’s 125th career: Computer Engineer. She’ll be in stores this fall. From the press release:

“All the girls who imagine their futures through Barbie will learn that engineers — like girls — are free to explore infinite possibilities, limited only by their imagination,” computerengineer.jpgsays Nora Lin, President, Society of Women Engineers. “As a computer engineer, Barbie will show girls that women can turn their ideas into realities that have a direct and positive impact on people’s everyday lives in this exciting and rewarding career.”

To create an authentic look, Barbie® designers worked closely with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering to develop the wardrobe and accessories for Computer Engineer Barbie®. Wearing a binary code patterned tee and equipped with all the latest gadgets including a smart phone, Bluetooth headset, and laptop travel bag, Computer Engineer Barbie® is geek chic.

Not a peep, yet, out of Concerned Women for America. You may recall they famously fretted that a 2006 poll on the Barbie Website would promote gender confusion. Drop-down menu answer choices to the poll’s “I am a” question awkwardly included “boy,” “girl”… and “other.”

CWA will be very happy about the other Barbie career announced today, the 126th: Anchor Woman. Wikipedia runs down the other 124 Barbie careers through the years. (A sampling: 1959, Fashion Model; 1961, Ballerina; 1965, Astronaut; 2000, U.S. President.)

Some Tech Press reaction:

  • GigaOm, “does Barbie use a Mac or a PC?”
  • Gizmodo, “can anyone tell me what the binary on her screen says?”
  • CNet, “do real female programmers actually wear that much pink?”
  • NYTimes Bits, she “still has her trademark cascade of blond hair, impossibly small waist, [and] feet frozen on tiptoes to slide into her high heels…”
  • Boy Genius, “an online vote (cough, Reddit, cough)…”
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  • DaMav

    Certainly a vast improvement over Burka Barbie, designed to teach young girls the joy of enslavement.

    • Wow, DaMav, that’s really offensive.

  • DLS

    It’s not a bad choice. I like the pink laptop — it makes me think about the movie we saw once in art class, a cynical feminist film, with a “Data Processor” as a beauty contestant. “Oooo, that must be really hard for her pushing all those buttons!”

    Back in the real world — of course, the opposite of the burqa is what we enjoyed in LA. Barbie’s clothing, here, is very modest, indeed.

    I’m surprised Don Q. hasn’t added some real-world cynicism — “she’s training her Indian replacement.”

  • She looks like me! Dorky little glasses and all. In all seriousness, though, girls who will grow up to be engineers tend to play with legos, not Barbies. Those who end up to be computer engineers usually play with…computers.

    In addition, I think a little “gender confusion” would be healthy for kids.

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