I am apparently a little behind on this, but last year, Mattel came out with a new Barbie doll in their series of "I Can Be..." Barbies showcasing different career paths for Barbie. The specific doll in question here is Architect Barbie.
Although a bit off topic from my normal posts, this one hits closer to home because of my chosen field and the fact that I have a daughter who I would likely encourage into a career in the real estate realm.
While I recognize Mattel's need to have glamorous representations of everything for Barbie, this (and probably others in the career line) comes off, at least to me, as particularly unrealistic. I think there's a fine line here between trying to make a career like Architecture attractive to young girls through exposure to Architect Barbie, and trivializing the experience or position by giving her a hot pink plan tube/yoga mat carrier. Not to meniton that Barbie is apparently carrying the plans for her ubiquitious "Dream House" along with her, which most Architects could probably never afford.
Architecture, like most jobs, is not all cute pillows, international travel and acclaim. Like most professions, it can be very hard to get to the top and not spend your days drawing bathroom stalls and stairs.
In fact, an 8-year old girl wrote to Dwell magazine earlier this year, criticizing Architect Barbie for not including any further information about Architecture itself to further young girls' curiosity about the career path:
"If you're going to send a girl an Architect Barbie, then you should send something about architecture with it so that she knows what that doll means. Otherwise, she might use that Barbiefor a different purpose like putting its clothes on a different Barbie doll and forgetting about it."
It's also been noted by some that Barbie's footwear is incredbily unrealistic for walking a jobsite, seeing that she comes equipped with an über-cute hardhat.
"It's as if these naysayers were saying that a rail-thin, perfectly coiffed blonde can't actually roll with the big boys—that she should put those blueprints down, go to a nail salon, relax with a Cosmo, and let the real men do the work."
It really seems to me that this sort of representation of a real career actually serves to put the pursuit of that career farther out of reach of girls like my own daughter. I would hate to give her this kind of present that trivializes her career aspirations, whatever they may be.
- Jared Willis