Due to geek girl mobilisation, Computer Engineer Barbie won the popular vote for the next Barbie in the “I Can Be…” series. She appeared in 2010 and retails at $12.99. Mattel, the company who makes Barbie claims that these “dolls and accessories empower girls to play out different roles and ‘try on’ fabulous careers”. They write this about Computer Engineer Barbie: “Always a reflection of the times, this digital diva engineers the perfect geek-chic look, with hot pink accessories and sleek gadgets to match. The inspiring set also comes with a special code that unlocks career-themed content online, for even more digital play (how fitting)! … Perfect for gadget girls.”
This is a dramatic shift from 1992’s Teen Talk Barbie who said “a number of phrases including ‘Will we ever have enough clothes?’, ‘love shopping!’, and ‘Wanna have a pizza party?’ Each doll was programmed to say four out of 270 possible phrases, so that no two dolls were likely to be the same. One of these 270 phrases was ‘Math class is tough!’ (often misquoted as ‘Math is hard’). Although only about 1.5% of all the dolls sold said the phrase, it led to criticism from the American Association of University Women. In October 1992 Mattel announced that Teen Talk Barbie would no longer say the phrase, and offered a swap to anyone who owned a doll that did” (Wikipedia).
The popular vote for Computer Engineer Barbie has led to Barbie/Mattel attempting to ignite a campaign to inspire women. The new model Barbie has also provoked critical responses on YouTube and elsewhere, for example, you can see rare footage of Barbie’s first day or read Barbie’s blog.