Computer Engineer Barbie Thinks Math Is Awesome And Lucrative

Over the last five decades, the vaguely human-shaped fashion doll Barbie has had a lot of careers. Barbie’s jobs have changed over time along with perceptions of what the little girls who played with her could grow up to become. She was a nurse in 1961, then a surgeon in 1973. She was a student teacher in 1965, and President of the United States and a Starfleet officer in 2000. Now, Mattel is hopping on the geek chick bandwagon with Computer Engineer Barbie.

Computer Engineer Barbie still has her trademark cascade of blond hair, impossibly small waist, feet frozen on tiptoes to slide into her high heels and a whole lot of hot pink.

She also wears a neon-colored T-shirt with a binary code pattern and carries a smartphone and a Bluetooth headset. Her hot pink glasses will come in handy during late nights coding on her hot pink laptop. Before any one begins complaining, Mattel points out that her accessories were chosen with the help of the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering.

Personally, I’m holding out for Blogger Barbie, who comes wearing pajama pants and a Trogdor hoodie, with a tiny MacBook and espresso machine.

Barbie’s Next Career? Computer Engineer [New York Times] (Thanks, Kelly!)
Barbie’s careers [Wikipedia]

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  1. madanthony says:

    Will there be a matching computer engineer Ken doll, complete with 8 days of stubble, thick glasses, extra-pale skin, and rumpled t-shirt from Thinkgeek?

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      Optional accessories include the pile of Chinese takeout cartons, pizza boxes, & Mountain Dew bottles?

      • DangerMouth says:

        I thought it was Doritos and Yoo-Hoo?

        Are those post-its stuck to the front of her shirt?

        • Jerkface says:

          Doritos and Yoo-Hoo are what you snack on between meals of Chinese takeout, pizza and Mountain Dew. It’s important to have a balanced diet.

    • partofme says:

      Not possible. Computer engineer Barbie ALWAYS dates outside the major.

      • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

        True, but mine’s a mad scientist (molecular bio / EE), so he’s still pale, stubbly and rumpled.

        Also, FTR, I am SO buying this Barbie and keeping her at my desk.

    • mythago says:

      “Wow! He looks just like Daddy!”

  2. elmo3 says:

    Of course one of her accessories is glasses, because after all, ignorant people assume anyone with any brains must by definition wear glasses.

    And, of course, that means anyone who doesn’t wear glasses must be stupid.

    What’s worse: “Mattel points out that her accessories were chosen with the help of the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering.” Oh, nice–now the engineers themselves are dirt stupid, and happy to show it.

    And apparently “a smartphone and a bluetooth headset” is the new pocket protector. And this came from engineers?

    Well, anyway. Let’s just kill the whole Barbie thing and get it over with, shall we?

    • MostlyHarmless says:

      Or more likely, the engineers are smarter than you think and are actively sabotaging barbie.

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        Sabotaging? Really? I know that the second my computer-adoring, Barbie-playing nieces see this doll they’ll be trying to push their parents into the nearest toy store. And the oldest one? Her computer is pink and so are her glasses. I’m sure she’ll want a t-shirt in binary after this doll is released.

    • CaptainSemantics says:

      I thought computer technicians had a higher rate of eyeglass dependency because the computer screens, over time, hurt their eyes?

      Or am I just using too much logic right now?

      • elmo3 says:

        It’s not logic.

        The glasses are pure cliche, without meaning. Looking at a computer (which is the new version of “looking at books”) doesn’t do a thing to your vision such that you need glasses.

        When you get older, you need reading/computer glasses if you read and look at a computer. But that’s a function of getting old, not of the computer or the books.

        • kmw2 says:

          Very much not so. The appearance of eye strain and eye problem in computer and knowledge workers (called “computer vision syndrome”) is associated with an increased need for glasses, just the same way that reading and other clerical work can.

          • tsukiotoshi says:

            Yep, I needed to get glasses when I was 13, but my eye sight stayed stable until I went to college and then grad school, when I spent all my time reading tiny print books or staring at a computer screen. My eye sight has tanked spectacularly!

        • morlo says:

          It might be the vision strain, some genetic linkage of vision to intelligence, or even kids with glasses being marginalized into intellectual pastimes rather than athletics, but a lot of brainy people have defective vision. If they are nerdy and not wearing glasses, chances are they have contacts.

          • Noadi says:

            Yep, and some of us with contacts have them because our vision is so bad that our glasses are so thick as to have a fishbowl effect if we wear them. People don’t realize that for some severe vision problems contacts actually work better than glasses now. I never want to go back to glasses.

            • roguemarvel says:

              You guys didn’t mention that people voted for this career out of several possibilities. The people have spoken we want to see this chic geek Barbie.

              I think I might by one. I only wish I had a daughter to give one to.

        • dumblonde says:

          I don’t know. I’m in law school and there’s a disproportionate number of people with vision problems. I know at least 3 lawyers that got corrective laser surgery after school. And at Harvard a lot of people wore glasses. It’s not like this is scientific but a lot of smart people wear glasses.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      Agreed about the glasses. At least they’re somewhat attractive, but still very cliche.

    • BartleyR7 says:

      Isn’t some of this related to the intended audience? I’ve never seen my physician wear a white lab coat or carry a stethoscope around his neck, but that doesn’t stop us from accepting “doctor dolls” with those accoutrements. I think most kids associate computer engineers with laptops and “tech gear,” even though that might not be the case. It certainly isn’t for me. (For the record, my BS and MS are in CompE while my PhD is in computer science/engineering.)

      • elmo3 says:

        “I’ve never seen my physician wear a white lab coat or carry a stethoscope around his neck, but that doesn’t stop us from accepting “doctor dolls” with those accoutrements.”

        No, but I’ve seen mattress stores advertise using a good looking young woman wearing–surprise–horn-rimmed glasses and a white coat, holding a clipboard. Sometimes she has a stethoscope around her neck. Yes sir, buy our mattress and no only do you get to do this woman on the mattress, she’s proof that our mattress is medically approved. See? She’s wearing the accoutrements and everything!

        • angienessyo says:

          so it’s okay to have males dressing in a stereotypical fashion, but the second they do it with females it’s bad?

          I’m female, near sighted, and do quite a bit of computer work so I’m not offended by Barbie wearing glasses. Just about everyone I know who is in the computer field has glasses or contacts so it’s not like the stereotype came out of nowhere.

    • Alter_ego says:

      In their defense, I’m a female computer engineer with a pink laptop. And a sparkly green phone. I like pretty things. I think the idea is that they’re trying to tell little girls that beig a computer engineer is cool. So they have to cater to other things a lot of little girls like, like pink.

      Obviously, there are girls who have other interests, but those aren’t the girls that need a Barbie doll to convince them that it’s ok to like math, they’re going to do what they want anyway.

      • katstermonster says:

        +1!

        I’m an engineer with glasses and a pink case for my Blackberry. I want that binary t-shirt…

      • MeowMaximus says:

        The absolute hottest (in the sense of being the best at what she does) female computer engineer I know has a hot pink PC (that I helped her build), and yes she wears glasses. She’s cute too (if only she wasn’t already married, ah well). Nothing wrong with combining cute & smart!

    • ludwigk says:

      No, its because she grew up staring at crappy low-res CRT monitors in the middle of the night and she destroyed her eyes. But, she’s too busy to fuss with contacts or lasik. That’s why we all wear glasses!

    • notovny says:

      Have there been other Barbie dolls who wore prescription eyeglasses? Or has it mostly been a “Barbie’s Friend” thing?

      I could be wrong, but I don’t think that most members of the target audience who require vision correction will be wearing contacts.

    • Mr_Human says:

      You have it backwards. Kids with glasses become nerds. Nerds become computer scientists. Thus computer scientists wear glasses.

      • colorisnteverything says:

        I was a nerd before glasses. My ex (who was less of a nerd than I) was a computer engineer. I am actually a pretty decent looking chick, but I think it is my brain that is probably sexiest. And I only wear glasses when in a lecture or working on my research.

        • admiral_stabbin says:

          You’re probably right. There’s no reason a guy like me should ever be able to mingle with the pretty ladies. Wow them with some flash cards, and I’m in.

  3. jayde_drag0n says:

    I want blogger barbie.. simply for the Trogdor hoodie

  4. Carmeysays... says:

    You know, I am really on the fence on this one. There is no doubt Mattel over the years has used Barbie to manipulate little girls into living stereotypes about women. As Dave Ramsey pointed out in one of his lectures, one Barbie had a MasterCard and made sure to say “cha ching – charge it” or something like that. Which is mondo wrong, getting kids addicted to the idea of credit.

    However, I see here a very noble alternative role model presented, that it’s okay to not be a fashion whore, to have a brain and to think.

    If they continued this design process and had a not-so-slender Barbie, and a variety of other-looks Barbies, I might start to rethink my image of Mattel.

    On the other hand, one could also look at that as a new more sophisticated form of manipulation if they sneak other small unhealthy messages in those dolls…

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      There was a wave of anti-Barbie dolls in the late 90s … I collect unusual dolls, so I snagged a couple of the “Smarties” dolls, which were Barbie-like dolls but they were lawyers, doctors, etc., and had more serious outfits and accessories, came with a little booklet about the job, etc. Sort of like American Girl dolls.

      But my favorite from that wave is Feral Cheryl, who comes with dreadlocks, flat feet, AND PUBIC HAIR. And a quick google shows me she’s still around: http://www.feralcheryl.com.au/

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I grew up with Barbie dolls and have yet to believe I need to have large boobs, small feet or blonde hair in order to be of worth in life, or that pretty women can’t be smart or successful. My Barbies ran businesses, traveled (all around the backyard, which stood in for places like Paris and India) and threw parties full of interesting people — just like my mom. Don’t underestimate little girls, and don’t blame a doll for the problems of a society revolving around media that’s saturated with images of an unlikely female ideal.

      • jesusofcool says:

        Thanks for saying that. Personally, I see nothing wrong with computer engineer Barbie – it’s a great career for girls to aspire to and I think by making pink accessories and cute clothes they found a way to make it feminine and avoid some of the unflattering and untrue female engineer stereotypes.
        I generally very touchy on feminist issues, but I also grew up as a huge fan of Barbies and I feel I’m yet to be emotionally scarred. President/Politician Barbie (90s thing?) and Veterinarian Barbie were my favorites. Then again, I was a weird kid – my Barbies were often famous historical figures and one was always an egyptologist….

      • mythago says:

        So “images of an unlikely female ideal” includes every image of an unlikely female ideal except Barbie? Is this the no-snowflake-is-at-fault-for-the-avalanche argument?

      • Jupichan says:

        My Barbies did Mayan sacrifices on each other. :3

        • FaustianSlip says:

          Heh, my Barbie and Skipper were regularly chased down and mauled by the St. Bernard who was patrolling the mountains of their Swiss chalet.

      • reddbettie says:

        My Barbies had lots and lots of sex too!

    • Nick1693 says:

      Kinda sad that the “alternative role model” is the smart one.

  5. KillerBee says:

    Let’s not forget Barbie’s Mom’s Dream Basement Playset.

  6. missdona says:

    What’s up with the Max Headroom era glasses?

    Brainy girls must wear glasses, right?

  7. guroth says:

    The binary on her laptop spells out Barbie, and that’s pretty cool.

  8. flugennock says:

    Y’know… based on my own experience, I’ve known absolutely zero woman geeks who dress that stylishly. They wore no hot pink that I recall. They also packed laptops the same color as everybody else’s. Nice try.

    • morganlh85 says:

      So maybe it’s less to encourage regular girls to become computer engineers and more to encourage computer engineer girls to look like regular girls? lol

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        Wait, we don’t look like “regular girls”? I’m sorry, are my boobs growing out the wrong spot just because I have a computer degree and an engineering degree?

        I think this idea is pretty cool. Maybe it will encourage more girls to be interested in science and tech. Normalizing it with a Barbie doll and showing you can be a “geek” and girly at the same time is great. I love shoes but I also love my pi shirt.

      • jenjenjen says:

        Regular girls, you mean the ones who don’t know how to use compootors?

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Were they nine? Because I can guarantee you my nine-year-old niece is going to be all over this, seeing as both her glasses and computer are pink.

    • katstermonster says:

      *raises hand* Female geek here. On my way to a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. Attractive. Good fashion sense. Pink case for my blackberry. I would have gotten my laptop in pink if it had been offered.

      We do exist, I swear.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      My laptop is purple. I paid an extra $40!

      I’m not a super-skilled tech geek, but I’m definitely a geek.

    • redrolla says:

      Hey, I’m geek chick. Senior position at a software company, former MENSA member and dress stylish. Have been looking for a laptop and pink or red is on the top of my list. Of course, I run into people all the time that think I’m stupid just because I do my hair and makeup every morning and try to dress nice.

    • SunnyLea says:

      I’m posting this on a pink laptop right now.

    • hikari07 says:

      I resent this as well! I’m currently in college majoring in Information Systems Technology and in a sorority. I’ve got two internships (one currently this semester and one next semester), and was the only undergrad TA for a 1000 level course last year so I can hold my own when it comes to tech stuff. I follow many fashion blogs and magazines and am infatuated with shopping. As a matter of fact I just bought a hot pink tunic yesterday.

      So who says we have to fit any certain stereotypes?

  9. lestat730 says:

    I find this to be quite funny. When I was in high school 10 years ago, computers were not at all mainstream and most people did not incorporate them into their lives at all. As a result, I was made fun of for being so into them and thought of as a computer nerd. Now being called a computer nerd is no longer a bad thing, people respect you for it and it’s almost like a badge of honor! You know things have truly changed when everyone is fully addicted to computers and even Barbie has become a computer nerd!

  10. Clyde Barrow says:

    What does the “Consumerist Barbie” look like?

  11. morganlh85 says:

    I wouldn’t have been into it as a little girl, but hey, if it gets a few girls interested in doing something other than baking pies for their husband when they grow up, then more power to them.

  12. JulesNoctambule says:

    Well, there’s the birthday gift for both my nieces taken care of nice and early this year! The oldest one is going to love having a doll whose accessories match hers, and the youngest can play ‘Hack into government security systems’ without all the messy real-life repercussions! She’s a future Hank Scorpio, I swear.

  13. Cocco says:

    Wow. It’s a doll. Why does she provoke such strong assumptions and reactions? I loved barbies when I was little and had all sorts of them. My friends and I play acted with them, and it was a lot more about the drama than the identities that mattel gave the dolls. We made up our own. Our barbies also had quite intense libidos (perhaps because of her German prototype–perhaps not) and they explored them. I was not brainwashed into wearing high heels (I’m almost always in sneakers) or starving myself.

    As an aside, I went to dinner with two computer scientists the other night. The woman was more fashionably accoutered for an after work meet up than I am at the best of times. What’s with all the generalizations?

    • BarbiCat says:

      Because it’s ‘edgy’ to slam something meant for kids. And nothing says ‘I’m a strong, mature woman’ like bitching about dolls with pink glasses and laptops.

      I’m a computer tech. I’m female. Surprise, I wear glasses. There is almost a 100% certainty that my daughter will also wear glasses. I guess I’m supposed to be outraged about being a stereotype? Pink is one of my favourite colours, and I collect toys and dolls. [Oh my god, I even have a few Barbies, someone please, call the feminism police on me right now!]

      • mythago says:

        The feminism police are a little tired of responding to crank calls from women who are so angry that anyone would DARE to suggest THEIR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD TOY!!!1!1 is anything but a heroin-like shot of female empowerment directly to the ego.

        • BarbiCat says:

          Yeah, that’s totally what I said. You sure have my ticket there.

          • mythago says:

            Sorry, it was a little to read your post with that massive chip on your shoulder blocking the light.

            • BarbiCat says:

              Yeah, I think I’m going to let this go before your posts become even more acidic and rage-spewing. I apologize for whatever raw nerve I hit/puppy I kicked/nun I ran over that apparently made you so outraged and nasty towards me.

  14. GameHen says:

    I’m a girl geek in a geekish job. I’m certainly not very stylish at all and I despised Barbie when I was a little girl, but damn it, I want this doll!

    • FaustianSlip says:

      Screw this doll, I was mostly a Playmobil/Lego kid (though an aunt gave me “Graduation Barbie” as a joke when I finished college), but I didn’t even know there was a Starfleet Barbie. Where can I get one of those?

      On second thought, I assume it’s a TOS miniskirt Barbie, not one that looks like Captain Janeway. That takes a bit of the shine off (but only a bit).

  15. Rocket says:

    The binary on the laptop screen actually says “Barbie” over and over.

  16. Sheogorath says:

    She needs to gain about twenty pounds. At least.
    And where’s the bag of Cheetos?
    SURELY she comes with a plastic Mountain Dew bottle?

  17. bonanz says:

    I hope she comes with a degree from a EAC/ABET accredited school in computer engineering and isn’t just one of those barbies that has an MIS degree, a degree from devry, or maybe just knows how to sling a little code from her website and reads a lot of tech blogs and postures as a computer “engineer.”

  18. MaytagRepairman says:

    I’m not sure a computer engineer is that great of a role model. I’ve been in the consumer electronics and computer hardware industries for the last few years. I’ve been dodging bullets trying to keep a career as I have seen positions move overseas. I’ve lost previous job roles to China, Argentina, and Israel. I might possibly lose my current gig to Bangalore.

  19. Lynn says:

    At least Barbie has a job. Which is more than you can say for the entire Disney princess mafia.

  20. elmo3 says:

    I want to see Octo-Mom Barbie.

    And Ken-And-Barbie-Plus-Eight, then less Ken, then with Ken’s latest squeeze of the week.

    And Barbie has a dial in her back that pulls her hair all the way in on demand.

  21. BarbiCat says:

    Screw everyone, this doll looks awesome. I will buy her, and make up stories about her being a survivor of a zombie holocaust, while she is besieged by my zombie dolls. Gotta keep those servers running while fighting the undead!

    And seriously, people – I’m starting to doubt any of you actually know people in the IT field, with the way you sling some of that stereotypical crap around. I’m willing to bet most of my friends dress WAAAYYY better than you guys do, and they’re nicer guys and girls, to boot.

  22. mythago says:

    I had Barbie as a kid, too, and she didn’t warp my view of women for all time. She was, however, boring as shit. Oh wow, you can change her outfits! How exciting! Maybe next I can go watch paint dry. I preferred to take my Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman dolls (yes, I’m old) to my best friend next door, who had all the GI Joe dolls, and we’d happily spend a whole day kicking the plastic asses of various villain dolls.

    • BarbiCat says:

      So… you couldn’t make up your own stories about a Barbie doll having super powers or bionic limbs, you needed another female doll to play out those stories instead?

      • mythago says:

        I’m sorry, did I hurt the feelings of your Internet Commenter Barbie?

        I suppose I could have pretended that one of Barbie’s sparkly earrings was a deadly hand-held laser gadget. Luckily I already had much cooler dolls.

        • BarbiCat says:

          I just find it interesting that you seem really hell-bent on telling everyone how boring and stupid Barbie dolls are, even though you totally don’t have anything against them, or anything. I guess I hit a nerve there, your response is pretty biting.

          Just because you couldn’t have fun with Barbie dolls, doesn’t mean they’re not cool to SOME kid out there. But hey, I get it, it’s fun to trash people for what they like to play with just because it doesn’t suit your own tastes.

  23. Vivienne says:

    So, let me get this strait…

    If mattel makes a Barbie that is engaging in vapid, dippy, girly, but fun stereotypes, it’s bad. AND if Mattel makes a Barbie that is engaging in some counter-stereotype traditionally masculine activities, it’s ALSO bad?

    No wonder no one takes feminism seriously any more.

  24. xredgambit says:

    When are they going to make Hot Girl barbie, The one with glasses, maybe DBZ or Naruto t-shirt. Says random quotes from the Simpsons. Has a NES controller for a belt. But also has a jock moron boyfriend that would beat me up.

    You know the perfect girl, that always has some dumbass boyfriend.

  25. LBD "Nytetrayn" says:

    So this no longer means “math is hard” for her? Congratulations to her, then.

  26. ninabi says:

    Dressed like this, Barbie walks into the engineering center without a clue in the world as to how to do the homework but with her hot look, no problem, plenty of guys eager to help!

    And that is why my engineering kiddo doesn’t wear makeup or sexy clothes- she earned her grades. But she’s seen some “Barbies” preying upon hapless nerds as desperate for female attention as the girls were for the answer keys and she’s trying hard to distance herself from such behavior.

    I don’t think Barbie dolls make girls become engineers. Playing with mechanical gadgets and building robots and model rockets and knowledge of tools…agh! I could rant for hours on this one.

    • jenjenjen says:

      Guess what, you can be brainy AND still hot. Seriously.

    • BarbiCat says:

      Damn, I forgot, if you’re an attractive woman you are instantly a brain-dead moron. She clearly can’t use a computer, because she’s just too pretty, right?

      If you weren’t so busy being self-righteous and smug about how great your own child is, maybe you could see that any step in the right direction for girls is a good one. Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back too hard, there.

  27. cete-of-badgers says:

    Change the dumb shirt for a black t-shirt from an ACM conference, make that watch a digital and show Pearl instead of binary (binary?!) on that laptop, and I’d go for it.

  28. MrWilly says:

    Copy/Pasted from a co-worker who has far more time on his hands than I do:

    “Let’s see… the code on the screen is all 8 bit so she is probably using an old IBM PC clone laptop. Probably an 8088 based Toshiba with a plasma display.

    Anyway, this is what I see on her screen and admittedly my eyesight is going so you may see more than me.

    01000010 01100001 01110010
    01100010 01101001 01100100
    01000010 01100001 01110010
    01100010 01101001 01100100
    01000010 01100001 01110010
    01100010 01101001 01100100

    or

    B a r
    b i e
    B a r
    b i e
    B a r
    b i e

    Binary DEC HEX ASC
    01000010 66 42 B
    01100001 97 61 a
    01110010 114 72 r
    01100010 98 62 b
    01101001 105 69 i
    01100101 100 64 e”

  29. meechybee says:

    I’m loving Binary Barbie, but she’s gotta ugly it up more. Also loving the Girl Scouts’ attempts at keeping up with the times for offering merit badges for all kinds of computering: CyberGirl web surfing, desktop publishing, computer fun, etc.

    http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_central/insignia/online/junior/computer_fun.asp

    With badges like these, I could have been an Eagle Scout.