The following post originally appeared on the blog of BHS Help Desk senior Kristin Johnson
I AM NOT A BARBIE GIRL
Almost every little girl growing up was given a Barbie doll, whether it was a princess, an everyday, or a career doll, society has influenced girls to strive to fit the model of a Barbie Doll. On November 14, Buzzfeed, a blog covering current topics in entertainment, technology, and “life” in general, released an article on a book published by Mattel called “Barbie: I can be a computer engineer”. Thinking this book would be written in order to encourage young girls to become interested in a technology field, I was very disappointed to find that Barbie had no insight on what to do. The book starts out with Barbie and her sister Skipper sitting in the kitchen. Barbie is furiously typing away creating a game that allows a user to use a cute little robotic puppy to completetasks. First of all, Barbie had to create a game that had a puppy in it because if it was anything else, it would not be girly. Secondly, Barbie is not actually writing the program that will make the game run, she is simply designing it, she will “need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” Upon showing Skipper the game, a virus appears crashing Barbie’s computer. But have no fear, Barbie has her flash drive on her necklace because she has to accessorize. Barbie goes to plug-in the flash drive to Skipper’s computer, transferring the virus to that computer as well. If Barbie knew anything about computers, she’d know that when she plugged in the flash drive to her computer , it would transfer onto the flash drive.
Skipper’s computer then crashes and she looses her work. Barbie promises that she will get both computers fixed when she goes to school. But before Barbie left, Skipper hits Barbie with a pillow, starting a pillow fight. Stereotype much? Having a pillow fight is clearly the right move in this situation. Barbie tells Skipper that she’ll bring their laptops to school so that she can fix them. Barbie is sitting after class and her two friends, who happen to be males, begin talking to her. Barbie explains her situation prompting Stephan to reply with “It will go faster if Brian and I help”. The amount of sexism behind that reply is unbearable. Barbie, as a woman, clearly can not fix the laptops herself.
The moment that Barbie hands over the laptops, Brian and Stephan instantly fix them as if it was as simple as pressing a key. Boys to the rescue!The following morning Barbie gives her sister her laptop and believes that it was her that fixed both laptops and not the boys. Following the return of the Skipper’s laptop, Barbie presents her cute puppy program to her teacher, who just so happens to be a woman. Barbie’s teacher is blown away by her work and gives her an A+ and even extra credit. Congrats Barbie, you’re clearly a computer engineer. Couldn’t write a program or fix two laptops but you drew a cute puppy and wore a cute top when you presented the game. So sure Barbie, you can be a “computer engineer”.
This coming January, I will have the honor to attend one of the most prestigious education conferences in the country. Along with my three other female classmates and my teacher we will be attending Educon in Philadelphia. Our conversation will be: Closing the Gender Gap in Innovation: Engaging Girls in STEM.
This is an amazing opportunity. Not only will it benefit me because it shows I am passionate about pursuing a technology related career, but I hope to inspire other girls to get involved in technology. There are not enough women in the field of technology. It is male dominated and in the 21st century it should not be that way.
As a girl in the technology field, I do realize that it is not always the easiest thing to be a part of. But that did not stop me. Over the past four years I have taken programming classes, been apart of the Burlington High School’s Help Desk, attended various technology conferences and even got the opportunity to tour the Google office located in Cambridge. Being a girl does not mean that I have to be just a house wife, I can be whatever I want. To all you girls out there that are interested in the technology field, do not be afraid to pursue your dream. Just because Barbie is not a computer engineer does not mean you can’t become one.