The impact of Barbie on young girls’ self-image and aspirations has been a controversial topic for decades. But this week, Mattel, the toy company that makes Barbie, took a small step in a positive direction with the official launch of Entrepreneur Barbie as its latest “career of the year” doll for 2014.
In a lot of ways, on the surface Entrepreneur Barbie looks a lot like, well, regular Barbie: She’s packaged in a pink box, with drastically unrealistic physical proportions, a glossy smile, and perpetually pointed toes. What sets her apart is that she comes with all the trappings of running a modern business, including a tiny toy smartphone, tablet, and briefcase. (With Barbie, the accessories are the message.)
Really, though, I suppose the most important thing is she’s got the backstory of being an entrepreneur. When young girls play with Barbie, they’re really just using their imaginations and telling stories — so this gives them a framework to play with Barbie as a business builder, not, say, a shopaholic.
While sales figures in recent years show that Barbie dolls are not as hot a toy as they used to be, they still have a real impact on what some young girls idolize. The launch of Entrepreneur Barbie is another role model of sorts that young girls can see in the business world. It’s a small move, but, as TechCrunch co-editor Alexia Tsotsis wrote back in February, every little bit helps.
So, why is this a TechCrunch story? For starters, the dearth of female entrepreneurs is a real issue in the technology industry. Also, Mattel enlisted a group of female founders, many of whom are in tech, to honor this week as a “Celebration of Women Entrepreneurs” alongside the launch of the new doll. So TechCrunch TV talked to a few of these women to find out why they got involved and what the new Barbie could mean to the next generation of female founders. Check that out in the video above.
Producing, script writing, and voiceover recording for this video was done by Felicia Williams. Shooting, editing, and interviews by Steve Long.