Barbie the Computer Software Engineer


Which doll will rule the computer engineering desks of the future? (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Skining Bear/Creative Commons)

A couple of months ago I reported on a study that suggested computer engineering programs needed to cut down on the masculine dork factor if they wanted to snare more female students. Well, now Mattel has done one further and created computer software engineer Barbie.

Yes, this won't be the first plastic, female figurine to grace the murky, Cheetos-dusted man caves of the computer engineering world. But it might just be the first to lack swords, machine guns or a pair of triple Ds. Face it, for all her failings as a female role model, Barbie's far less sexualized than your typical anime heroine.

The move to issue Barbie a Bluetooth earpiece and a laptop came as the result of a consumer poll. Mattel asked Barbie fans to vote on Barbie's next career, and they decided to throw gender stereotypes to the wind and pick computer software engineer and...er... news anchor.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is apparently behind the choice, stating in the press release that this doll will "show girls that women can design products that have an important and positive impact on people's everyday lives, such as inventing a technology to conserve home energy or programming a newborn monitoring device." That's right, SWE President Nora Lin, who says a woman's place is in the home? Why can't Barbie create programming for NASA spacecraft?

So what do you guys think about Barbie's latest career choice?

Thanks to computer science whiz (AND FEMALE!) Marilyn Cole for letting me know about this development!


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.