Barbie Really CAN Be A Computer Engineer In This Remix Of Her Controversial Book

casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed

You’ve probably seen plenty of posts on your Facebook feed of people complaining about that Barbie book by Mattel which claimed Barbie is far too incompetent to be a computer engineer that she has to get help from the boys to create software? It caused quite the ruckus online, so much so that Mattel was forced to remove the book and it is no longer available to buy. No one is mourning the loss of that little ditty!

It seemed as if the toy manufacturer was trying for a genuine push to get girls interested in STEM careers, but they solidly missed the mark with their execution. Thankfully, people of the Internet came to the rescue and many even created their own responses. The best response was not just in reply to Mattel’s blunder, it was a remix of the whole story.

The girl wonder behind this remix is PhD student Casey Fiesler who studies computing at Georgia Tech. Yeah, that’s right, she’s an actual female computer engineer and for her seeing a pop culture icon misrepresent girls like her was too much to bear. Instead of writing an angry blog post, she decided to take action, which we hope Mattel has taken notice of.

The title Casey used was ‘Barbie: I can be a computer engineer – the remix! Now with less sexism!’

“The problematic part is that, as far as I can tell, the steps for becoming a computer engineer if you’re Barbie are: 1. design a video game, 2. get a boy to code it for you, 3. accidentally infect your computer with a virus, 4. get a boy to fix it for you, and 5. take all the credit for these things yourself,” she writes in a blog post about her remix.

“The message this sends is: Sure, girls can work with computers—but obviously they aren’t the ones doing the coding. Programming is for boys and art is for girls,” Casey writes in an article on Slate about her version.

casey-fiesler

The bright side, she says (if there even was one) was that her computer science teacher in the original book was a woman. But she also mentions that the problem wasn’t just the blatant sexism, it was that Barbie’s role in the book was a designer, yet Mattel was trying to pass that off as computer engineering. So it seems they have marketing issues. Heck, a toy that has had over 100 careers since its creating in the 1950’s, there are bound to be some off-putting messages in there.

“We are all too aware of the problem of under-representation of women in computer science. While this single book may not seem like a big deal, it is simply one more example of this much larger issue,” said Casey. “Girls consistently see more men than women as scientists in the media, and Barbie’s more than 100 career choices haven’t exactly leaned toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines, So this Barbie was a rare opportunity. Imagine young girls playing out stories of Barbie as a Web developer, database administrator, software engineer, or game designer! No one ever told me that I could play “computer science Ph.D. student” with my Barbies.”

While Casey doesn’t believe the intent was to portray Barbie as a role model being an engineer, we think she just automatically is, due to her immense popularity and saturation in pop culture. The fact that she has stood the test of time and managed to impact young girls’ lives for more than 50 years shows Mattel need to take their position as influential toy makers seriously, and work with people to create the right types of messages. And if not, hey there’s always real life superwomen like Casey Fiesler who are happy to take on the task of showing young girls what a computer engineer really does.

You can see Casey’s remixed Barbie book images below, but if you are a parent looking for books and resources that are inspiring, empowering and engage girls in a more intelligent way, check out A Mighty Girl, they are a great resource and we are a huge fan of what they are doing for the younger generation.

Let’s all be counter-culture heroes!

casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed casey-fiesler-barbie-remixed

 

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: LEGO Inspiring Girls To "Keep Building" On Their Imagination In This New Video

  2. Pingback: How Ingrained Are The Unrealistic Standards Barbie Has Inflicted On Young Girls? | Vee's View

  3. Pingback: Is Barbie's 'Be Super' Campaign Enough To Rescue The Doll's Failing Image?

  4. Pingback: Is Barbie's 'Be Super' Campaign Enough To Rescue The Doll From It's Image Crisis?

  5. Pingback: Our Message To Mothers About Mattel's New Diverse Barbie Collection - GirlTalkHQ

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.