First, screenwriter, bestselling author and long-time blogger Pamela Ribon highlighted the fact that children’s book ‘Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer’ not only doesn’t teach kids what engineering involves, but promotes the message that women need a couple of dudes to hand for even the simplest task. (Genuine line from the text: ‘”I’m only creating the design ideas,” Barbie says, laughing. “I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!”‘)
Then, the internet exploded with righteous feminist fury and everywhere from niche tech sites to major news outlets covered the story. Next, computer engineer Kathleen Tuite created a web app called Feminist Hacker Barbie so people with actual technical knowledge could remix the book to make it more feminist (and accurate), and Twitter users had a field day with the #FeministHackerBarbie hashtag as a result.
Here are some of our faves:
Barbie: Job Creator by Rebecca Maines
Head-banging Barbie by David Allsopp
Programming-obsessed Skipper by Rick Waldron
Code advice Barbie by Julie Courtwright
Gamergate tie-in Barbie by Andrew Vestal
UX Barbie by Cheeseburger Bobby
Megalomaniacal Barbie by Andrew Vestal
DVD-shaming Barbie by Matt Velic
Hacker(s) Barbie by Jen Geacone-Cruz
And of course, Endofunctor Barbie by David Allsopp
Mattel, the company behind Barbie and her book have now apologised for this title’s utter uselessness and pulled it from sale. They say, ‘All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girl’s imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.’ If that turns out not to be the case, we’ll see you on Twitter.
If you’re more interested in getting a new camera than new clothes this season, you might be interested in these camera accessories for your iPhone, which beg the question: Do you need a camera if you own a camera phone?