Geek Girls Triumphant

Well, the crazy wild news on the general geekery front is all about, believe it or not, Barbie. Mattel had an online vote recently to determine what Barbie’s newest “career” would be — and the vote went pretty overwhelmingly for “computer engineer.” They unveiled the new doll yesterday:

I’ve heard a few positive and negative reviews so far. First, a lot of people are jazzed because it’s a nice little shot of respect for a career that doesn’t often get a lot of respect. It’s also seen as something that could encourage more girls to pursue computer careers.

What are the complaints? I’ve read some folks who feel there should be a bit more nod to computer geekery — one person I read suggested that the new Barbie’s clothing choices should come from someplace like ThinkGeek. It’s not a bad complaint, but I’d just recently read about a study that found that women who were exposed to the more geek-oriented stereotypes about computer sciences were much less interested in computer careers than those who weren’t. So maybe a less-geeky Barbie would actually be more encouraging than an especially geeky one…

Another complaint had to do with that laptop. Glittery pink? Really? I don’t know anyone who owns a pink laptop, or who would want to own a pink laptop. It’s one of those dumb marketing things you see from time to time — “Oh, girls like pink stuff, right? Let’s sell a pink laptop and the little ladies will buy ’em!” That kind of thinking gets companies selling pink power tools, pink handguns, pink musical instruments. And most people, male or female, don’t want that stuff. They look freakin’ ridiculous, and who wants to look that goofy?

And the other complaint I heard was about the glasses. Part of it is just: Why buy into the “nerds wear glasses” stereotype? There are plenty of computer folks out there who don’t wear glasses, or who wear contact lenses. On the other hand, it’s been a while since anyone really believed the “guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses” bulldada, so it’s not exactly a bad thing either.

So what do you think? Good news for geek girls, or bad news for everyone?

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