The world famous Barbie doll has had to move with the times, however grudgingly. So Barbie has been trying on careers. But a new book called Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer offers a pretty sorry estimation of a woman’s coding potential. (Barbie, for goodness sake, is supposed to be a role model.) Or maybe it’s not her potential that’s lacking–Barbie doesn’t even try to code in the book. Maybe she’s just satisfied with surface issues. She’s making a video game, which is cool, but here’s a typical quote: “I’m only creating the design ideas,” Barbie tells Skipper. “I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!”
You read that right. Barbie’s gonna put the pink in this show, but she needs the boys to make it go. Now lots of people–men and women–have ideas for a game or an app but they need help with the code. All the web outrage around this Barbie gaffe might have been avoided had Barbie just asked, say, Steven and Jessica for help. But bloggers like Pamela Ribon are stunned at the tone-deafness of Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer. And especially the way it embraces stereotypes that women–especially women in the tech industry–have had a hard time overcoming. It’s a little silly that Barbie can’t code up her own game really–after all, even for fictional blondes, it’s been almost 14 years since Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) went to Harvard Law School wearing as much pink as any Barbie.