The nice part about being at Haverford is that I really feel empowered as a woman. Bryn Mawr’s right next door and there are many strong empowered smart women who serve as inspirations in the classroom and as staff members. While I wish there were more women of color to relate to and who might be better able to understand the different waters I have to navigate as a Latina, there are women in high powered positions so I feel capable of climbing up ladders and breaking glass ceilings.
For those who are not as fortunate to have great women to look up to, Mattel has created a Barbie to serve as an inspiration. This would be great if the book that accompanied it didn’t have some major flaws that actually make women look more like a joke in the STEM fields. The Daily Dot summarized it this way,
“The problematic part is that, as far as I can tell, the steps for becoming a computer engineer if you’re Barbie are:
- Design a videogame.
- Get a boy to code it for you.
- Accidentally infect your computer with a virus.
- Get a boy to fix it for you.
- Take all the credit for these things yourself.
In their efforts to encourage women Mattel really just furthered the stereotype of women just mooching off men in science. In the field of Computer Science as well as other STEMs there is a dearth of women in the field making it more difficult for women to get involved, let alone find a role model to encourage them and to get advice from. The number of women of color participating in STEM fields is even lower.
Luckily, some women decided to correct the mistake. Here are a few snippets from the remixed version.
My favorite was the little nudge to breaking the stereotype of the hyper-masculine black male. Sadly Mattel missed many opportunities to help feminism and to show what life as a woman in the sciences is really like. Mattel did issue an apology according to GeekWire but it wasn’t well received.
I invite you to look at the discussions and the points made. One friend, a female engennering masters student found the doll encouraging as she used it to help her recruit other women into the computer science field since they could not imagine themselves coding or building circuits. I personally felt that the book was done in poor taste and undermined the struggle women in the sciences face. Is something better than nothing as we try to encourage women to pursue STEM?