Movie Mom

Movie Mom


‘Nerd’ Barbie?

posted by Nell Minow

barbie-computerengineer2-194x300.jpgWhile Ken is walking his little dog in Palm Beach, Barbie is crunching code as a computer engineer. Wired reports that the latest Barbie has a laptop and a bluetooth earpiece. Created in cooperation with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering, Barbie is now the essence of “geek chic.” She wears classes and has a t-shirt featuring binary code. And of course her laptop is pink!



  • http://theravelledsleave.blogspot.com Lynn

    I had one of the original Barbies, back in the 60′s. And Midge, and Skipper, and Ken, and Alan, but not the Dream House or the Corvette. Very glad to hear that Barbie has belated acquired some grey matter to go with all that pink!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Yes, she’s come a long way from her “Math is hard” days! Though I suspect that this Barbie may be more popular with grown-up computer engineers of both genders than with little girls.

  • Dave

    Clearly Barbie is a very smart cookie – in addition to being a computer tech, she’s also been a doctor and a veterinarian, and served a stint in the Armed Forces. But unfortunately the gal seems to have great troubles holding down a job! I’m still waiting for Movie Critic Barbie, with squinty eyes from all that time spent in darkened theaters, a box of popcorn, and one hand formed in the shape of a thumbs up (which can easily be rotated to a thumbs down).
    All kidding aside, I do think it’s great that Barbie has grown beyond her “math is hard” days to become a positive role model for young girls who might actually have an acumen for math or engineering. Barbie dolls like this one may also go a long way in helping to further eradicate the stereotype that cute blondes are airheads.

  • Wendy

    Is Barbie really a “positive role model”? It’s nice that she’s had all these great jobs and I wouldn’t want “Engineering Barbie” to be somehow less attractive than any other Barbie (and I have to admit, I think she’s really cute), but I just feel as if we are starting with a flawed premise. I don’t think–at least in the middle class world I inhabit–that the biggest problem is that cute blond girls think they are airheads even if the stereotype persists. I think the problem is that every girl thinks she must look like Barbie and 90% of the women on television and in the movies to be successful as a person. I know I’m not saying anything new, and I’m having trouble saying it as well as others have already said it, but girls see these images and think that’s what they should look like and boys see these images and think that’s what girls should look like and it’s all just very frustrating. How do we help our daughters have healthy body images and how do we help our sons understand what they can realistically expect? And I know it’s not Barbie’s fault, but she doesn’t help.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Wendy, I guess I’d say that she may not be ideal, but given the inherent interest in Barbie as a cultural icon, and given Ken’s louche Palm Beach persona, I am glad to compliment her on a step forward.
    And Dave, when they come out with either movie critic Barbie or shareholder advocate Barbie, I’ll be the first in line to buy one!
    Thanks to you both for great comments.

  • Wendy

    Thanks for your perspective, Nell. I will add, in about 5 years, if my daughter asks for a Barbie, I will be glad that engineering Barbie, veterinarian Barbie, and we can hope movie critic Barbie, shareholder advocate Barbie, and (dare I suggest) Pastor Barbie exist.

  • Dave

    Pastor Barbie – now there’s an interesting idea. Though I can see that one getting more people to picket Mattel than “math is hard” Barbie ever dreamed of doing, from both sides of the equation!
    But I do think that, even with her wholly unrealistic measurements still intact, Barbie is a much better role model today for our young girls as veterinarian Barbie and engineering Barbie (and the soon-to-be movie critic Barbie, shareholder advocate Barbie and pastor Barbie) than she ever was when the only choices were townhouse Barbie, cheerleader Barbie and Malibu Barbie.
    You know, I don’t ever recall feeling like I had to live up to Ken’s impossibly ripped abs as a boy ….

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Wendy, I am sorry now that I was tough on my then-four-year-old when she wanted a Barbie and while I was not thrilled at the time, I am glad her aunt overruled me and gave her one. I learned a lot in seeing the way she played with Barbie and gained confidence that (1) some things are inherent and will be a part of play no matter what we tell them and show them as alternatives — we can have a separate conversation about boys and guns and (2) that the things we tell them and especially show them will triumph. Some of what makes us uncomfortable as adults is just a reflection of the very concrete world view of children, who have their own idea of what “princess” means. And, to paraphrase Freud, sometimes sparkly high heels are just sparkly high heels.

  • Wendy

    I was kind of kidding and mostly not, but I just ran across this: Episcopal Priest Barbie. She may not come from Mattel that way, but she has her own facebook page
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=105139079524495&ref=mf

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Wow, Wendy! Thanks! And check this out: http://jwablog.jwa.org/tefillin-barbie%27s-new-career

  • Wendy

    What a thoughtful blog post. Thanks!

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