Barbie Book Basically Tells Girls They Can’t Code for Themselves; Internet Fixes It

November 20, 2014

4:30 pm

Despite being an icon of Americana and a leading figure in the development of girls around the world, Barbie has never really been the best role model. With body proportions that skew the ideals to literally impossible standards and career choices that lead girls everywhere to aspire to be something dependent on those ideals, it’s really a surprise that Barbie has managed to outlive other toys – let alone other dolls – on the market.

Always the one to stay on top of trends, Barbie has recently found herself pursuing a new career in a recent book: computer engineering. But, before you applaud Mattel for its pursuit of STEM careers for the iconic doll, let it be known that Barbie doesn’t do any actual programming in the book; instead she ends up relying on some dudes to do all the coding. It’s okay, though, because the Internet community ended up fixing it.

Titled Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer, screenwriter and comedy writer Pamela Ribon recounted this week a recent experience/encounter with the book while visiting a friend’s house. Originally available through Amazon and very recently taken down by Mattel after mass publicity of its contents, the book explores the story of Barbie as she works her way through the pains of designing a game that involves cute, robot puppies. The entire story can be recapped on Ribon’s original blog post, but a short recap of events in the story include: Barbie depending on her guys friends to do all the programming for her game; Barbie infecting her sister’s computer with a virus; Barbie taking credit for the entire game and presenting it to her CS class; and Barbie getting into a pillow fight (yes, this actually happens).

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Pages from the original ‘Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer’.

Obviously, the book has amassed a lot of negative criticism from the Internet community, which has led Kathleen Tuite to launch an online initiative to fix the horrendous book. Through the website Feminist Hacker Barbie contributors from across the Internet can submit their corrections to Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer, and the results have been a blend of both humorous and precise, reflecting real-world situations in which actual women programmers find themselves, putting them in more empowering situations than what was previously featured in the actual book.

revised-barbie-computer-engineer
One of the Internet’s many revisions. This one comes directly from Anonymous itself.

They’re great revisions to a trashy piece of children’s literature. You can check out more on the Feminist Hacker Barbie hashtag on Twitter. And, I mean, if you want to protest Barbie altogether, you can get yourself a Lammily doll – the Barbie-like doll with normal body proportions that comes with cellulite and acne sticker accessories.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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