Thursday, February 18, 2010

Barbie is a computer engineer! Or maybe just tech support.

By popular vote, Barbie's next career will be Computer Engineer. There's a good chance that the voting was slightly in our favor due to some rumored automated scripts that artificially boosted the vote. wink

Barbie will be sporting a very stylish outfit and carrying around a laptop that has apparently frozen (see the binary numbers floating across the screen).

Her wardrobe has received a lot of attention. Apparently it was designed in consultation with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering, organizations that are well known for their sense of style. She'd blend right in with our Engineering department.

The BBC News also had a lot to say about the new Barbie. Unfortunately, they seem to equate Computer Engineer with Tech Support:
"As anyone who works maintaining computers could tell you, Barbie would do well to invest in a hair band... Even the shoes are unlikely to be seen on the feet of people who spend half their day crawling under desks or feeding cables through walls." (emphasis mine)
I'm sorry, but a computer engineer is not the person hooking up your network or installing virus protection on your desktop. But I do understand the popular press's misconception of what computer engineers do. I just fear that it's this misconception of computing that will continue to drive females away from computer science/engineering rather than attract them to it.

On the SIGCSE mailing list, the event has received a lot of attention. Some think it's trivial, other think it's ridiculous, but some are hopeful it will make young girls think that maybe a career in computing is something desirable and obtainable. I sure hope so.

I'll be buying one for the department... we could use a little more pink around here. wink


Update

A friend of mine converted the binary one's and zero's on Barbie's laptop into ASCII. Guess what it spells? Barbie.