It’s official — Barbie has officially “gotten her geek on,” joining the ranks of female computer engineers worldwide. But if the little girls who voted had won out, Barbie would have had nothing to do with binary code — or saving the whales, the environmentalist option. She’d be sitting in front of a news desk, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Out of the more than 600,000 votes cast to determine Barbie’s new career, a surprisingly large number were from adults. A viral campaign by female computer engineers generated an enormous response from people who wouldn’t normally be caught playing with plastic dolls — including men.
The goal? Driving more girls toward careers in math, science and technology. Women make up only a small percentage of college graduates with computer science degrees.
“There is a perception that an interest in math, science and computers means being socially awkward and boring and sacrificing the opportunity to be creative and fun," explains Erin Fitzgerald, a science and technology fellow in the U.S. Department of Defense who helped organize the campaign.
Mattel sought input from women in the field to design Computer Scientist Barbie’s snazzy binary-covered tee, colorful jacket and pink glasses, heeding requests to avoid lab coats and nerdy accessories.
Meanwhile, Barbie aficionados will be rewarded with their true choice. Mattel will be releasing a microphone-wielding Anchorwoman Barbie along with her scientist double this fall.
Amid all the hubbub, Environmentalist Barbie got left in the dust — but with growing exposure to Earth-friendly causes such as planting trees and helping animals, perhaps 2011 will be her year.