Automation Barbie

It was on this day in 2000 that Mattel unleashed Barbie for President on unsuspecting young girls, trying to help them "envision themselves as the future leaders of this country." Actually, Barbie first ran for president in the 1992 election, but her campaign wasn't nearly as successful. She's run in every election since 2000 (she announced her 2012 candidacy last month, and will be available in four different races by August), but running on a platform that includes opportunities for girls and educational excellence doesn't win her many political allies.

I ran across the May 1, 2000, Barbie for President release date as I scoured historical dates for the monthly Flashback feature that Control Design is running each month to celebrate its 15th anniversary. And it got me wondering: Is there a STEM Barbie? So I started looking around a little more.

In fact, there is. In 2010, as part of its "I Can Be" series, Mattel launched Computer Engineer Barbie, complete with laptop, Bluetooth headset and, of course, glasses (the easiest way to disguise yourself as a nerd, right?). Barbie became a computer engineer based on a 2010 popular vote at Barbie.com.

Barbie has been a bit of a job-hopper over the years—with close to 80 careers in all—in her effort to show young girls that anything is possible. She's moved beyond her 1959 career as a teenage fashion model onto a young woman who can pursue any career she sets her sights on.

As somebody who's seen every Barbie movie out there (I have two tween girls in my house), I can attest to the fact that Mattel understands the need to empower young girls with feminist ideals (i.e., independent thinking and self-confidence). I've known some mothers who won't let their daughters play with Barbie—with her unattainable waist/bust ratio and ever-vapid expression—but I wouldn't mind if Barbie embarked on a few more STEM-oriented careers to help remind our young girls that their future could include a bit of math and physics.

As my friend, colleague and cubicle neighbor Jim Montague put it, "I suppose it's too much to hope for System Integrator Barbie, huh?"