Entrepreneur Barbie (Screenshot)

The Internet has the perfect response to Barbie's failed computer engineering book

#FeministHackerBarbie is the best hashtag

Sarah Gray
November 20, 2014 3:40AM (UTC)

The Internet responded to a terrible new book about Barbie from Mattel in the best way imaginable: #FeministHackerBarbie.

On Tuesday the Internet got a glimpse of a new book about Barbie: "I Can Be a Computer Engineer." Sounds great, right? The Barbie brand, who shows girls not anatomically possible body types, and skewed images of femininity, wants to encourage girls to get into a field where there's a dearth of women. GREAT!


One huge problem. The book doesn't encourage women to code, or build their own computers or anything remotely close to being a computer engineer. In fact Barbie appears to be pretty computer illiterate.

Instead Barbie needs the boys, Steven and Brian, to help her. From the book:

"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!"

The book once again enforces that girls just deal with the aesthetics, and boys deal with the technological side of computer development. Mattel could have used this book to introduce girls to Ada Lovelace, or Grace Hopper, or Hedy Lamarr. Mattel could have written Barbie as the hero fixing the computer, and designing her own game without the help of Steven and Brian, yet they didn't. Instead they did a disservice to every girl who picks up that book and thinks that boys do the programming and girls don't.


It is such a tired, ridiculous trope that the best way to respond to it is outright mockery. Enter Kathleen Tuite, who by her own description is a "rouge (sic) hacker; builder of systems involving collaborative creativity, crowdsourcing, and/or computer vision."

Tuite made Feminist Hacker Barbie, where you can take pages of the ridiculous Barbie book and alter them to create a more empowering story. For examples, the site suggests taking a look at Casey Feisler's@Spacekatgal's and InfoSec Taylor Swift's. So we looked there and beyond. Here are some awesome examples:

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Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

MORE FROM Sarah Gray

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barbie Computer Programmer Engineer Feminist #feministhackerbarbie Video Women In Tech

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