Why Girls Can Code Even If Mattel Doesn’t Think So

Earlier this week, the link started pouring in to me. Emails, Twitter, Facebook. “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?!” Mattel came out with a book “I can be a computer engineer”*. If I saw this in a store before any of this, I would have snatched that bad boy up immediately. You CAN program and still have cute hair! Anyway, it did not turn out that way. You can read the great play by play here about the book but basically Barbie is NOT really a computer game programmer but basically she is the designer (no shame there but it is NOT the same…TRUST) and she gets the boys to help her do pretty much everything in the book.


barbieBeing a woman in engineering wasn’t super easy (and I think I had it pretty good) but my bigger worry has always been that there aren’t enough of us to be role models for young girls. First off in sheer numbers and then even in how the majority are introverted and don’t “get out there” to show girls it cane be done. Do girls even know they CAN be in engineering? So I half applaud Barbie for this PR shitstorm. Even with a badly written message, it is all awareness in the end. They were TRYING to do the right thing and for a 5 year old, they probably are not reading into it like we are. To them, they see Barbie going to computer science class and “making something cool” as a girl. They don’t know the specifics…thankfully. The editor should be punched in the face but they got the IDEA out there. So in a weird way, I am happy for this horrible book. It’s just bringing more light to the fact that we need more girls in engineering…period.

And to prove my point that even bad PR is good PR…

Then The Internet Rocked My Face Off

Just as the social media world is known to do,  the internets gave this outrage more fire (as it should) and the result is fantastic. Within days, we have programmers from around the world rewriting the book and you can too. Even the infamous @YourAnonNews got in to it:

See! More awareness…HAZA!

Someone Who Has Done It Right

::pulls out soapbox, steps right up:: Did you know that Dec 8-14th is the Hour of Code challenge? I wrote about it last year and now I feel like this is even more a reason to join. Take an hour and pick a tutorial of how to write some code. Make a Flappy bird game. Make an Angry birds game. You can even “code” offline on paper. It’s all about fundamentals of how to think like a programmer. Then any language is your oyster 🙂


Does your little girl LOVE Frozen? Do you want her to enjoy analytical thinking and learn more about computer science? Does this seem an impossible collision of worlds?



Thanks to Disney Interactive, Code.org’s signature tutorial for the 2014 Hour of Code features Disney Infinity versions of Disney’s “Frozen” heroines Anna and Elsa!

YUUUUSSSSSSSS!! As much as I hate Let It Go anymore, I will be showing this to Landon like whoa. I can tell he thinks more analytically like Kevin and I and I think he will rock this. Also the kid LOVES video games and is really freaking good at it. HOORAY.

So go check it out. the site says it should take around an hour. Screw Barbie and her ridiculously high arches and let your little girl(or boy) get a little closer to an ACTUAL computer engineer! High fives all around!


Many thanks to the lovely folks at code.org for sending me this last night and making my day. This was perfect timing to give purpose to my ranting 🙂

*To note, this book was published in 2010 and has since stopped production and Mattel has addressed the concerns.

2 thoughts on “Why Girls Can Code Even If Mattel Doesn’t Think So

  • November 21, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Ooooh, I have never heard of the Hour of Code challenge, but I think Catie would rock that. Thank you for the links!

  • November 21, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    As with most things “Internet,” the backlash has been far more enjoyable than the original item . . . though, to be honest, your rage was quite amusing (even though the original content was….despicable, to say the least).


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