Sunday, November 23, 2014
Guest Post about Barbie `I can be an engineer' -- Sounds good but its not.
There is now a I can be an engineer Barbie. That sounds good! It's not. Imagine how this could be turned around and made sexist. What you are imagining might not be as bad as the reality. Depends on your imagination.
Guest Blogger Brittany Terese Fasy explains:
Remember the controversy over the Barbie doll that said
"Math class is tough!"? Well, Barbie strikes again.
If you haven't heard about II can be a computer engineer it is a story about how Barbie, as a "computer engineer" designs a game, but cannot code it herself. She enlists the help of her two friends, Steven and Brian, to do it for her. Then, she gets a computer virus and naively shares it with hersister. Again, Steven and Brian must come to the rescue. Somehow, in the end, she takes credit for all of their work and says that she can be a computer engineer. Gender issues aside, she does not embody a computer engineer in this book. For more details, please see here.
Children need role models. Naturally, parents are their first role models. And, not everyone's parent is a computer engineer / computer scientist. So, books exploring different career choices to children provides the much-needed opportunity for them to learn about something new, to have a role model (even if if that role model is fictional). In principle, this book is fantastic; however, it fails to convey the right message. That is why I started a petition to Random House to pull this book off the market.The petition is here.
Progress was made as Barbie issued an apology: here. And Amazon and Barnes and Nobles removed the book from its catalog. However, neither Random House, nor the author of the book have issued a statement, and it is still available at Walmart.
Until the book is completely off the market we should not stop! And maybe one day, we'll see
Barbie: I can be a Computational Geometer on the shelves.