Barbies in STEM? Female Filmmakers? Major changes at major institutions

By: Kathryn Rainville

This year has marked the advent of a new generation of women speaking up and stepping out. Two major players in the way of female influence from a young age (Mattel and Disney) are making strides to empower women.

First up: Mattel. What was your favorite Barbie doll when you were young? Did you ever think about her career, and did you ever envy it? I certainly thought about it, but I can’t say that I ever understood what, exactly, my Barbie did other than wear pretty clothes and go to the beach in her Jeep. However, this year, Mattel released a Robotics Engineer of their world-famous doll, one that they hope will promote young girls to explore STEM. Although the original Barbie isn’t going away, Mattel views the release of this Barbie as “…a powerful opportunity for kids across the globe” to become more exposed to the STEM fields and still play with a Barbie (McCowan). In fact, they have leveraged an online platform in conjunction with each sale of a Robotics Engineer Barbie to give girls the opportunity “…to learn basic programming concepts at a young age” through their partnership with Tynker (McCowan). Mattel has also partnered with Black Girls CODE (BGC) to increase the participation of and inspire African-American girls in STEM. These partnerships and the new Barbie aim to show girls that they can be anything they set their minds to from a young age. Mattel believes that encouraging women at a young age will help them be successful later on, and motivate them to move into STEM, where they state on their website for the doll that “only 24% of those jobs are held by women.”

Next: Disney. This year, Disney launched its “Dream Big Princess” campaign. They have selected “21 girls and women from 13 countries to develop digital short films about women who inspire them” (Carras). Not only is this a feat among the times of #MeToo and Time’s Up in Hollywood, but for each #DreamBigPrincess received on a social media post, the United Nations Foundation’s “Girl Up” fund will receive $1. Disney CCO, Jennifer Lee, believes that this project is the extension of what Disney does best – inspire women to dream. She says “The #DreamBigPrincess series is the perfect extension of that vision, providing a powerful platform for the next generation of aspiring filmmakers to create content about the women who have inspired them” (Carras). So, while Elsa, Anna, Moana, Mulan, and more have shown young girls just how powerful they can be, Disney has taken an impressive step towards equity.

With these moves to inspire young women, we are so excited to see just what the future holds for the coming generation.





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