Barbie has had quite a variety of careers since her inception in March 1959. Fashion model. Surfer. Astronaut. Paleontologist. Now, she can safely add ‘Robotics Engineer’ to her resume.
Toy company Mattel will release a range of Barbie Robotics Engineer dolls this Tuesday (3rd July). The dolls will come with safety glasses, a laptop with indistinct coding sequences as well as a little robot man accessory.
As a bonus, Mattel has partnered with Tynker to create a workbook and program to teach kids how to code. This effort is motivated by the desire to include more women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). As the Barbie website reads:
The STEM field continues to grow, but only 24% of those jobs are held by women. That’s why we’re encouraging girls to explore STEM through imaginative play and our partnership with Tynker, the award-winning computing platform.
The Tynker game has players connecting programming blocks to enable their robot actor to perform various functions. In addition, the workbook ‘Code Camp for Barbie and Friends‘ show kids how coding relates to everyday problems and careers.
The introduction of this Robotics Engineer Barbie comes in the wake of toy manufacturers’ and toy sellers’ desire to cash in on products that promote science, technology, engineering, and math education.
Amazon has jumped right on the bandwagon, with a ‘STEM’ club on their website. The club has subscriptions tailored for various child age groups including 3-4 year olds, 5-7 year olds and 8-13 year olds that “delivers handpicked Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math toys to [the customer’s] door at a great price”. These products include “chemistry kits and math tools”.
This Barbie toyline could potentially have a positive effect in encouraging young girls to chase careers in STEM fields. These areas are underrepresented by women, with The National Center for Women and Technology showing that women make up 26 percent of computer jobs in America. Alongside that, just nineteen percent of women obtained Computer and Information Sciences degrees in 2016.
Mattel’s chief technology officer Sven Gerjets commented:
We always have this issue in how do we get more females involved in engineering and STEM and technical skills,” said Mattel’s chief technology officer, Sven Gerjets. “For us it was give them the inspiration, let them know they can do this, and then give them some steps to get them started. So we know that they progressively grow and they are the employees that we hire in the next decade to fill the STEM-type jobs that are so critical.
What do you think of Barbie taking on the role of Robotics Engineer? Do you think Mattel’s approach will encourage girls to pursue computer science-related interests and careers? Leave us your thoughts below!