Women engineers help create new Barbie

April 14, 2010 at 3:51 PM
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CHICAGO, April 14 (UPI) -- The Chicago-based Society of Women Engineers said it partnered with California toy giant Mattel Inc. for the development of computer engineer Barbie.

Betty Shanahan, chief executive officer of the society, said her organization worked to turn out votes at Barbie.com to get computer engineer chosen as the career-hopping doll's next identity and the toy company contacted her after the job was chosen for input on development, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

"After I got Mattel's message, I sent a voice mail back and I don't know how many superlatives I used to say how excited we are that this is happening," she said. "Little girls don't hear the word 'engineer,' never mind think of it as a career option."

Shanahan, who said she hopes the doll will build interest in engineering among girls, said she suggested the Barbie be dressed in casual clothes and working on a computer. The finished product, due out in the fall, features pink glasses, a T-shirt that spells "Barbie" in binary computer code, a pink laptop and a Bluetooth device.

"I would see on blogs, 'What's with the pink laptop?'" Shanahan said. "But then in the comments, I would see, 'Oh, my mom has a pink laptop. Oh, I would love to have a pink laptop.' … Motorola's pink Razr flew off of the shelves."

Mattel said an online feature set to go live concurrently with the doll's release will depict the role of engineering in several of Barbie's other careers.

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