It’s 1992. I am ten. I want to be an advertising executive when I grow up. I am watching a TV news segment about Barbie, “Teen Talk Barbie” specifically. Teen Talk Barbie says “Math class is tough” among other things like “Will we ever have enough clothes?” and “I love shopping!”.
In that TV news segment I learn that math class is supposed to be tough, and that I should care about fashion. Mattel eventually pulls that specific phrase from the 270 that Teen Talk Barbie can say.
“In hindsight, the phrase ‘math class is tough,’ while correct for many students both male and female, should not have been included,” Mattel president Jill E. Barad says in a statement at the time. “We didn’t fully consider the potentially negative implications of this phrase.”
We’ve come a long way.
Barbie no longer hates math; in fact she too has a smartphone, and a tablet, which she keeps in her laptop case. Barbie is mobile first, because Barbie is an entrepreneur, Mattel’s “Career of the Year.” Entrepreneurship, whatever that means, is everyone’s career of the year.
My tech blogging team makes jokes about entrepreneurship (startup?) Barbie. Like, alternate names considered: ‘E-commerce fashion aggregator app’ Barbie, ‘Searching for a technical co-founder’ Barbie and ‘Isn’t sure if this is a VC pitch meeting or a date’ Barbie.
The jokes are very funny. They involve “day and night phones.” I’m glad people are talking about this in a humorous way. Things are funny because they are true.
In an article in The Economist, female entrepreneur Tory Burch emphasizes the economic necessity for closing the entrepreneurship gender gap, saying it would increase global income per person 20 percent by 2030. She brings up the fact that there are 126 million women starting new businesses and another 98 million who lead established ones to date.
Despite these gains, the entrepreneurship myth is still largely male. We have no female Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs. Our closest female candidates, Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg, are torn apart by the media on issues a man would never have to deal with. So cool, at least the next little girl who aspires to be a boss has Barbie to look up to.
We still have a long way to go.
Image via WhoTrades