Over the years, Mattel has attempted to broaden the image of its popular Barbie brand from that of beach-blonde babe with inhuman proportions into one that’s more inclusive, with dolls and initiatives promoting a more diverse image of beauty and strength.
Now, in time for International Day of the Girl, the brand has announced the “Dream Gap Project,” an initiative to raise awareness around cultural stereotypes and biases that place limitations on girls in order to help them realize their full potential--in the real world.
“You Can Be Anything,” a spot from BBDO San Francisco promoting the initiative, showcases a lineup of girls in various settings explaining the Dream Gap:
“Starting at age five, girls stop believing they can be presidents, scientists, astronauts, big thinkers, engineers, CEOs, and the list goes on. Why? Because what else are we going to believe when we are three times less likely to be given a science-related toy.. And our parents ar twice as likely to Google ‘Is my son gifted?’ than ‘Is my daughter gifted?’ That’s not cool.”
Barbie is partnering with New York University Associate Professor Andrei Cimpian to fund a two-year post-doctoral fellowship to further study the Dream Gap, which is still an under-researched subject especially in the case of girls from 5 to 7.
“Our research is just the beginning -- we need to dedicate more resources to this important topic so that we can better understand how to support girls,” said Cimpian in a statement.
“The goal of The Dream Gap Project is to leverage Barbie’s global platforms to educate society on gender biases and inspire any supporter of girls to join us as we can’t do this alone,” added Lisa McKnight, general manager and senior vice president, Barbie.
As part of the project, Mattel’s Barbie will be highlighting at least ten powerful female role models around the world each year and will continue to offer products that help illustrate the breadth of dreams girls can have, such as the Inspiring Women series.