Barbie, Computer Engineer
Mattel let its fans vote on Barbie’s next career. Nerds everywhere joined together in the blogosphere to vote for Computer Engineer Barbie. And I’m going to confess that I voted for her, too. The nerds have triumphed!
One of my friends griped about the clothing choice. This is what Mattel said:
Barbie® designers worked with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering to ensure that accessories, clothing and packaging were realistic and representative of a real computer engineer.
Barbie is wearing sparkly black skinny pants and a hilariously printed shirt with binary and keyboard letters spelling “B-A-R-B-I-E” on it. She also has a sparkly pink laptop, sparkly pink glasses, and what seems to be a misplaced or overlarge Bluetooth. I’m going to say right now that my friend was right–no computer engineer wears stuff like this. That’s because almost no one ever dresses like a Barbie, does her hair like a Barbie, or matches her makeup to a Barbie. A real person would look ridiculous! Of course the outfit is over-the-top. It’s a doll.
Unrealistic dress aside, I love the idea that a woman can be an incredible programmer and wear sparkly pants. Most people need to get used to the idea that socially capable, hygienic, and reasonably dressed people can be computer scientists and engineers. Look: nerds are going to rule the world when the singularity hits. We might as well start glamorizing them in pop culture now (see: Computer engineer Barbie, how much everyone loves Neil Patrick Harris, Big Bang Theory, Mythbusters, etc.).
The most reasonable discussion I’ve heard on this matter so far comes from Metafilter (beware, contains adult-level comments). As one commenter, rodgerd, said, “I was at LCA2010 and many of the terrifyingly smart women liked fancy clothes, and some of them liked *pink* fancy clothes. Your preconceptions of geek women may not match reality.”