Mattel has pulled its children’s book “Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer” after intense backlash from consumers.
The book, which implies that women need a man’s help to code, was immediately branded as “disgustingly sexist and offensive” by Amazon reviewers.
The company apologised for the misguided book in a post on the Barbie Facebook page:
“The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn’t reflect the Brand’s vision for what Barbie stands for. We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologise that this book didn’t reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girl’s imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.”
In the story, Barbie is portrayed as a woefully inadequate computer engineer who can’t actually write a line of code without a man’s help.
She infects her friend’s computer with a virus, then desperately calls on two male friends to fix it.
Disney blogger Pamela Ribon skimmed through a copy at a friend’s house and posted about her on her website. The word spread quickly through the mummy blogger community, and parents were outraged by the book’s message.
“Once again, women programmers are shafted by the toy industry who insists computers are toys for boys,” one Amazon reviewer who we quoted in a previous story wrote on Amazon before the page for the product was deleted, “This has already put generations of women in challenging situations when they enter university computer science programs. This book could do something to change that. but, no,”
Women in tech also flooded Twitter with messages voicing their opposition to the book and #FeministHackerBarbie began trending.
My face reading @pamelaribon‘s summary of the Barbie “I Can Be A Computer Engineer!” children’s book:
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