Barbie's been a fashion designer, gymnast, babysitter, and even a veterinarian, but the iconic children's doll has never had a job quite as amazing as her newest one: Mattel introduced Game Developer Barbie on June 15, and she's encouraging children in all the right ways.
Game Developer Barbie wears sensible shoes and jeans, doesn't worry about the perception of male dolls because there is no Ken in her world, and has a laptop that isn't gendered by color. There's no stilettos or outfit changes or accessories. Instead, Game Developer Barbie comes with a desk and a headset.
Best of all, as writer Casey Fiesler points out at Slate, Game Developer Barbie can code.
"With some help from my colleagues as well as the Twitter hive mind, we were able to just barely make out the code on Barbie’s laptop," Fiseler wrote. "The interface appears to be Alice, an educational programming environment, and the code it’s outputting is ActionScript (or maybe Haxe). Basically, she seems to be making a Bejeweled clone in Flash."
This is a major upgrade for a doll who once worked as a computer engineer, but had to switch careers after giving her friend, Skipper, a computer virus that erased his homework.
Barbie's amazing new gig is great for girls, too.
The Pacific Standard notes that 90% of American girls between the ages of 3 and 10 own at least one Barbie, and those between the ages of 3 and 6 own an average of 12 dolls, so seeing a progressive Barbie has a big impact.
The science, tech, engineering, and math (STEM) fields have a glaring women problem, and the gap starts in childhood. A January 2015 study found that elementary teachers have unconscious biases that tell them boy students are better at math and science than girl students. As The New York Times explains, that translates to less girls taking the advanced placement test for math and science, majoring in STEM fields in college, and pursuing a career in STEM.
Progressive toys, like the Game Developer Barbie, can make a difference.
In the words of first lady Michelle Obama, men: do better.
Girls need dolls that reflect their possibilities, and this Barbie is a step in the right direction.
Mattel is selling Game Developer Barbie for $12.99. Your nieces, daughters, and female cousins will thank you when they're running Silicon Valley.