Barbie, Remixed: I (really!) can be a computer engineer.

I am a PhD student in a computing department, so I guess it’s not surprising that my social media feeds have been full of outrage over Barbie’s “computer engineering” skills. The blog post that originally went viral appears to be sporadically down due to heavy traffic, but The Daily Dot also has a good summary […]

I read the linked blog post, I read the original blog post, I felt the rage that everyone else felt from reading that original blog post, and I downloaded and saved that remixed PDF to give to my friends with kids the next time I go to the US.

I cannot tell you how this triggers so many instances in my work experiences back in the eighties and nineties, where I tried to assist colleagues, female colleagues in particular, in their computer issues or any mechanical issues whatsoever, after the entire office was made aware of their concerns, only to be told, “Oh my god please don’t, I would rather have HIM do it”, the HIM either looking like someone who could “obviously” solve the problem, or, occasionally, being an object of affection.

Computer science as a flirtation device. Way to perpetuate the patriarchy, yo!

And there was one woman I worked who wanted her male coworker to come by one time and help her set up her stereo. Because all those wires and holes were just too complicated for her. My head just kind of hit my desk at that moment.

Seriously, what part of “you plug one end into the stereo and the other end into your speaker or CD player or whatever” don’t you understand?

You really need a guy to help plug those holes for you? Wait, don’t answer that.

Granted, all this happened a long time ago, but the fact that this behavior is still being encouraged, especially to little children, is quite disconcerting to say the least.

The problem in the US as I see it is that there are still way too many men AND women currently invested in the social hierarchy as it stands. It’s going to take more than a remix of a Barbie book to change things, but it’s a step in the right direction. Which leads me to one of the things I really appreciate about Germany. This damsel in distress bullshit perpetuated in the original Barbie book would not fly here. Everyone in this country is raised with a certain amount of expectation for self-sufficiency from a very young age, including success in intellectual pursuits. The male and female population truly do not tolerate stupid people. Especially manipulative stupid people.

Please note that these are my personal observations, culled from my living here for 3 years. As per usual, your mileage may vary.