Barbie, the toy doll that is a perennial favourite among girls, has been assigned a new career – computer engineer. But how accurate is the glam-looking tech support Barbie compared to real life..?
Her new occupation is the result of an online vote hosted by Barbie’s makers, Mattel – and the doll itself was unveiled last week at the New York Toy Fair. The new doll is decked out in black spangled leggings and a lime-green fitted tunic patterned with binary code, worn under a slinky waistcoat, with saddle-stitching detail. The ensemble is topped off with the requisite hot-pink accessories: glasses, watch and shoes. To emphasise her innate “techiness” she carries a pink laptop and sports a Bluetooth headset…
“It’s very much a young man’s industry,” says Rachel Andrew, director of Edgeofmyseat.com. “Women find the need to become quite laddish. You try and become very geeky and not particularly feminine…”
Despite Mattel’s claims that Barbie “can help inspire a new generation of girls to hone in on their computer skills and become a part of this growing profession”, not everyone is convinced.
“As a career, IT probably sounds a bit dull and boring,” says Katherine Coombs, a chief information officer. “I don’t think the doll’s going to change the world. It’s when other women are working in IT, not a doll.”
But computer professionals do think tech support Barbie could help change the perception of women in the industry, and make girls realise you don’t have to eschew makeup and styled hair to work in the computing sector.
IT women certainly needn’t feel trapped by the geek stereotypes that trap a few guys. Most male IT pros I know regard comfort as more important than style. And that’s it.
Women take style and appearance more into account than men ever will – and to whatever extent they wish to deal with attractive dress and fashion, they will bring that portion into their work life. Though, as ever, it’s a pleasure to poke fun at Barbie.