For nearly 60 years, Barbie has been telling girls they can be anything they want to be, thanks to the 200-plus careers held by the most famous doll in the world. Now Mattel is going a step further by not just releasing a new career for the doll, but actually helping young girls take the necessary steps to one day achieving that career. Welcome Robotics Engineer Barbie, which launches today and is designed to interest girls in a particular STEM job that many might find unfamiliar to them.
It’s not the first time Barbie has explored a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—we’re all familiar with astronaut Barbie—but it is the first time the doll will come with a robot you can bend and reconfigure as her main accessory (as well as a laptop). If you’re unfamiliar with the work a robotics engineer does, though, you’re not alone. That’s why Barbie has partnered with Tynker—the gaming platform that helps kids learn to code—to help young girls understand the careers available to them as robotics engineers (like designing robots to explore areas where humans cannot, such as the ocean or planets).
“We wanted to shine a light on this underrepresented career and field for women,” Lisa McKnight, Barbie’s general manager and senior vice president, tells Glamour. “Only 24 percent of STEM jobs are held by women, and we felt that Barbie, with the platform that we have, was the perfect opportunity to do more in this space.”
The doll will come in four ethnicities—African-American, Asian, Caucasian and Latina—so “as many girls as possible see themselves [in this doll],” McKnight says. Mattel and Barbie are also partnering with Black Girls Code robotics workshops to reach young girls interested in developing skills in the field. In addition, Barbie is collaborating with information science professor and coder Casey Fiesler, Ph.D., to release Code Camp for Barbie and Friends, an e-book available on Amazon that will introduce the concepts of coding.