"I can be computer engineer"

Does your developer team need Barbie?

Coman Hamilton
Barbie via Shutterstock

Many commentators have taken insult at the new developer Barbie doll – but let’s take a look at her programming skills before we go judging her.

“I can be computer engineer,” declares the latest model of Barbie on Amazon, vaguely recalling the lolcat ambition “I can has cheezburger”. Barbie is an ambitious woman after all and she’s decided she wants to go far in the tech scene.

Shortly before Barbie’s new-found interest in tech, the makers of the doll unveiled an Entrepreneur Barbie, sporting an entrepreneurially tight pink dress that revealed plenty of skin-toned plastic. “Surely we can debunk male stereotypes without resorting to the Barbification of female tech entrepreneurship?” The Guardian‘s Sarah Wood asks.

barbie amazon

The “I Can Be Computer Engineer Barbie Doll” on Amazon

This latest version of Barbie has certainly caused quite a storm in the developer community. But before we write her off, let’s take a look at Barbie’s tech skills and see what she brings to the table.

Maybe your tech team needs Barbie?

Many sentient humans will roll their eyes at Mattel’s (the manufacturer’s) superficial attempts to diversify career choices in programming. But then again, perhaps the software world needs more Barbies behind it.

SEE ALSO: 1984 – The year women stopped programming

Let’s start with her attitude: upbeat, creative and always prepared – those are the kinds of traits Facebook and Google recruiters are looking for, right?

“I always wear a flash drive on a necklace so that I’ll always remember to back up my work,” this female role model boasts in her accompanying book I Can Be A Software Engineer (check out its one-star rating on goodreads). Amazing! Who needs failover clustering with RAID when you can back up to your flash drive necklace?

Armed with a flash drive necklace and two boys

Barbie comes with two boys (for hire separately) that can help her our when things get technical: 

“Your robot puppy is so sweet,” says Skipper. “Can I play in your game?”
“I’m only creating the design ideas,” Barbie says, laughing. “I’ll need Steven’s and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!”

Not only is she totally reliable thanks to her trusty USB stick and male friends, but she’s even got a background in design. The average male developer will see little more colour than their IDE’s syntax highlighter allows.

A good appreciation of design aesthetic is somewhat numbed in the developer that spends much of his time deciphering the unreadable legacy code his predecessors left behind. Not so with Barbie. 

Barbie can create “design ideas” for your firm – woah.

How many of your male developer colleagues can claim they have come up with a design idea? Skills like these make Barbie a strategic recruitment choice for any tech firm. UX design, software architecture, fashion accessories – you name it Barbie can probably have a go at it. Maybe with some help from Steven and Brian.

If you’re convinced by Barbie’s skills, why not approach your supervisor to see if she can join your team? Her AWS skills must be amazing if you can order her straight from Amazon – and for an amazingly low $200.

She comes highly recommended from Amazon in the following areas:

  • Barbie gets tech savvy
  • Girls can play out the role of computer engineer
  • Help Barbie fix the company’s computer network and save the day
  • Code inside unlocks career-themed content online

What about coding experience? Sure, she writes coded love letters to Brian all the time. Java? Yeah, she makes great coffee! C++? No way! Barbie’s a grade-A student.

A recent study showed that beautiful women are more likely to face bias when applying for tech jobs. So try to go easy on her.

Feminist Hacker Barbie

If this Barbie isn’t the right match for your developer team, you might want to check out her feminist hacker counterpart on Heroku, an unofficial Barbie created in the wake of the current developer Barbie furore.

By rewriting the accompanying techie Barbie book with your own DevOps scenarios, you can “Help Barbie be the competent, independent, bad-ass engineer that she wants to be.” But then again, do all engineers really want to be competent, independent and bad-ass?

Coman Hamilton
Coman was Editor of at S&S Media Group. He has a master's degree in cultural studies and has written and edited content for numerous news, tech and culture websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies.

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