Science Needs Women—Go Ask Barbie!
Independent Advisory and Evaluation Service
Since Barbie was created by Ruth Handler in 1959, Barbie has continually broken boundaries by making her mark in numerous high-profile careers. In 1965, Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel, sent her to space; in 1985 Barbie became a CEO; and in 1992 she even ran for U.S. President. That’s an impressive curriculum vitae for anyone!
Yet Barbie did not become a “scientist” until less than a decade ago, in 2015.* While the debate around Barbie’s balance of being conventional yet progressive remains ongoing, as highlighted in the blockbuster 2023 movie directed by Greta Gerwig, the delay in launching a “Scientist Barbie” demonstrates the continued need to encourage women and girls to pursue science, technology, and mathematics (STEM)—and why days like the International Day of Women and Girls in Science are necessary.
During the same year “Scientist Barbie” was released, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 70/212, titled International Day of Women and Girls in Science. According to the resolution, the annual observation on February 11 intends to raise awareness of and promote the full and equal participation of women and girls education, training, employment and decision-making processes in the sciences. The day is also a call to eliminate all discrimination against women and ensure women can overcome legal, economic, social, and cultural barriers. Finally, the day is meant to promote the importance of science education policies, programs, and careers.