The gender gap in the career fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is well-known. Men continue to outpace women in the STEM workforce. The need to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM fields is so important that several research centers around the world are conducting studies on how to go about it. The goal is to repair the STEM pipeline, the path from early childhood education to a STEM-related college degree and then on to a STEM-related career, so that both girls and boys are encouraged and supported in pursuing these educational paths and entering these careers. In the end, it is hoped that greater gender equality can be achieved in STEM-related employment.
Several organizations have taken concrete steps to close the STEM gender gap and repair the STEM pipeline. Among these organizations is the Girl Scouts of America. This respected organization has developed programming that enables girls to earn badges in several STEM-related areas, including environmental science, computer programming, robotics, and more. Another organization that is working to repair the STEM pipeline and close the STEM gender gap is DIY Girls. The organization has instituted clubs and camps focused on technology education for girls, particularly in the areas of electronics, computer coding, and engineering.
In addition to these organizations and others like them, one leading toy company is working to close the STEM gender gap. This company, Mattel, hopes that its Barbie dolls will help to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers. Barbie dolls representing women in various careers were first created in the early 1960s, so this company has a long history of leading the way in gender equality. Read on to learn more about how Barbie is helping to facilitate positive change in this area.
The Barbie Dream Gap Project
In 2018, the Barbie Dream Gap Project launched. The goal of this project is to encourage girls to overcome the widespread societal belief that there are limits on their future. The Barbie Dream Gap Project is intended to inspire girls to believe that they can become anything they want to be when they grow up. In March 2019, the Barbie Dream Gap Project raised $250,000 and distributed the funds to several charities working to enable girls to achieve their dreams.
In addition to fundraising, several other initiatives comprise the Barbie Dream Gap Project. The first is a research component. Through this initiative, both New York University and the University of California Los Angeles have partnered to understand what created the dream gap and to develop an academic curriculum to close it. Another component of the Dream Gap Project is the development of video content. The content features Barbie drawing attention to exemplary women who can serve as role models in a variety of career fields. Finally, Mattel has developed special Barbie dolls to demonstrate to girls that women can make a name for themselves in a wide variety of ways.
Barbie Role Models and Inspiring Women Dolls
Among the Barbie Role Model dolls are some that represent actual women from a variety of STEM fields. Among these women are the world-famous wildlife conservationist Bindi Irwin, renowned aviator Amelia Earhart, and the extraordinary NASA mathematician and physicist Katherine Johnson, who became widely known through the film Hidden Figures. Barbie has also created dolls in its Inspiring Women line that feature women who have changed the world. Among these women is Sally Ride, one of the first six women to become a NASA astronaut and the first woman from the United States to fly in space.
By creating dolls that represent famous role models and inspiring women, Mattel hopes to help girls to move beyond just imagining themselves as successful in their chosen careers. Rather, Mattel aims to enable girls to see the reality of women who have already become successful in their chosen careers. Mattel notes that 10 new Barbie dolls representing female role models in a variety of careers will be released each year. At this rate, it is likely that any girl who aspires to any career will quickly find a famous role model represented by a Barbie doll.
Barbie Career Dolls
Mattel has also created dolls that are designed to highlight STEM-related careers to which any girl can aspire. For instance, the Mattel collection spotlights Barbie pursuing a medical career as a doctor, veterinarian, dentist, nurse, and as an optometrist. Barbie is also shown working as a scientist, marine biologist, astrophysicist, entomologist, agriculturalist, beekeeper, and as a wildlife conservationist. The collection also presents Barbie pursuing a wide range of STEM-related careers as an astronaut, airline pilot, park ranger, builder, and as a robotics engineer. With such a wide range of STEM fields represented, any girl can surely find a career that interests her and imagine herself working in it.