This is gonna hurt. The empowering “I can be an actress” and “I can be a computer engineer” are part of the “I can be” Barbie Series — the reviews on Amazon.com are interesting, some saying that this book if “Great for lighting fires during power outages” or less veiled “Why Do People Who Make Toys for Girls Seem to Hate Them?” Books like these make great, great fodder for teaching issues related to gender and engineering. There has also been tons of flack that students might sift through and reflect upon — here, here, or here.
If you want a solid run-down of “I can be a computer engineer” — a story were Barbie gives Skipper’s computer a virus by accident and then the only way to fix it is to get some young guys to take care of it for Barbie — then check out this thorough blog post. The Barbie Facebook community responded to these and other concerns, indicating that “The Barbie I Can Be A Computer Engineer book was published in 2010. Since that time we have reworked our Barbie books” as if, perhaps, to say that things have really changed since 2010…
For a healthier example, we’ve most recently related to girl’s building-blocks called GoldiBlox.
Not since my childhood have I seen something this bad from Barbie related to math, science, and engineering (i.e., the Barbie doll that said “Math is hard”).