Barbie fails as computer engineer

Barbie apparently fails as a computer engineer as Mattel removes 'Barbie: I can be a Computer Engineer' book from all sales outlets.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

For a guy named Ken, and as a computer engineer, I'm taking this Barbie diss pretty hard. But, news is news, so here's how it played out. Some people felt that Barbie failed as a computer engineer and that the book, Barbie: I can be a Computer Engineer, was sexist and had other problems as well. A few headlines even brand her as "inept". I disagree. If you really look at the book, there's nothing wrong with the story. It's our mad interpretation of it that really bothers people. I think Mattel and the irate, militant feminists have <again> overreacted.

Barbie: I can be a Computer Engineer

In the story, Barbie apparently comes up with design concepts for computer games. So, what's wrong with that, you ask? She tells Skipper that to turn it into a real game, she has to get Steven's and Brian's help. 

Really Barbie? You're saying that you're part of a design team and that not one of you has all the expertise required to build an entire computer game? Wow, that's so...normal. Seriously, game design is a good job. Designers aren't always programmers and they work as part of a team to bring a game to life. Seems pretty normal to me.

Then, the story turns to Barbie who attempts to email her design idea to Steven, but discovers that she has a virus. The virus, she and Skipper discover, originated from her flash drive.

Is Barbie showing that she's a helpless female or an inept computer engineer? No, that's absurd. The thing is that everyone gets viruses, even the NSA and FBI. Why is Barbie held to a higher standard than security organizations?

Barbie is a game designer, not a desktop support technician. It's a very different skillset. Many of my coworkers bring me their Windows-based computers to fix because they're UNIX or Linux people and not Windows experts. Or maybe, like Barbie, they just don't know enough about computers to call themselves competent computer engineers.

Another scene that has drawn much angst is the "pillow fight" that consists of Skipper playfully hitting Barbie once with a pillow. One tap with a pillow is not a pillow fight. It's like fake hitting someone and then calling it a fist fight. Seriously, what's wrong with people?

Finally, Barbie meets Steven and Brian at the library where they connect Skipper's computer to the library computer to retrieve her documents and music. For some reason, this gesture is seen as sexist. It isn't. If it were sexist, only Steven or Brian would have been needed to assist. Instead, it was a group effort to rescue Skipper's files.

In the end, Skipper's files are saved. Barbie's files are saved. Barbie gets a good score for her design and all end's well. That is until some militant feminist got ahold of the story and decided that it was bad.

What does the story really have to say?

Barbie is smart. No one knows everything. Teamwork is key to success.

There's no sexism. There's no misogyny. There really is no problem.

It sounds like a typical day in any IT shop to me.

The only problem that I see in the story is that Barbie takes a bit more of the credit than she should. She should have told Skipper that it was a team effort to retrieve the files and to remove the virus. But, that too, is pretty typical of IT people.

In all, I'd say it's a pretty good story.

And, hey, Barbie,...I'd totally hire you as a game designer because obviously you're good enough to impress your female instructor and your two male coworkers. So, yes, you can be a computer engineer. And Ken can stay home, clean house, write the Great American Novel, or create blog posts for ZDNet, while you earn the big bucks as a game designer. I bite my thumb at the haters. So there.

Read the whole story for yourself and decide.

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