Clos­ing the ‘dream gap’


The Nation - - LIVING IT UP -

OVER THE YEARS, Bar­bie has taken on many roles: beach beauty, sci­en­tist, even pres­i­dent of the United States. And now, she will work to help young girls close the so-called “Dream Gap”. The doll’s maker Mat­tel on Tues­day an­nounced a sweep­ing cam­paign in col­lab­o­ra­tion with univer­sity re­searchers to teach young girls to be­lieve in them­selves, and not to buy into sex­ist gen­der stereo­types. “Re­search has iden­ti­fied that start­ing at age five, many girls are less likely than boys to view their own gen­der as smart and be­gin to lose con­fi­dence in their own com­pe­tence,” Mat­tel said in a state­ment.

The com­pany will fund re­search and work on “ral­ly­ing a com­mu­nity around sup­port­ing girls” through its multi-year Dream Gap Project. Mat­tel un­veiled a new ad fea­tur­ing young girls hold­ing plac­ards that read “Close the Dream Gap” and ties into Bar­bie’s “You Can Be Any­thing” cam­paign.

The brand is work­ing with re­searchers at New York Univer­sity, and hopes to ex­tend that ini­tia­tive in other part­ner­ships around the world.

It also will high­light “at least 10 em­pow­er­ing fe­male role mod­els each year glob­ally”.

Though Bar­bie is of­ten crit­i­cised for per­pet­u­at­ing neg­a­tive stereo­types with her im­pos­si­bly lean physique, the brand has worked hard in re­cent years to por­tray a modern im­age.

In early 2016, the Cal­i­for­ni­abased com­pany launched Bar­bie ver­sions in three dif­fer­ent body shapes – tall, pe­tite and curvy – and in seven dif­fer­ent skin tones.

This year’s fea­tured ca­reer is robotics en­gi­neer. An­other new line show­cased “In­spir­ing Women” such as avi­a­tion pi­o­neer Amelia Earhart and black Na­tional Aero­nau­tics and Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion math­e­mati­cian Kather­ine John­son.

“Since 1959, Bar­bie has in­spired the lim­it­less po­ten­tial in ev­ery girl,” said Lisa McKnight, gen­eral man­ager and se­nior vice pres­i­dent for Bar­bie at Mat­tel.

“We be­lieve that em­pow­er­ing them at a young age is a cat­a­lyst to un­lock­ing their full po­ten­tial.”

In July, Mat­tel an­nounced that it was cut­ting 2,200 jobs af­ter re­port­ing an­other steep quar­terly loss, de­spite ris­ing Bar­bie sales.

The com­pany, which also pro­duces Match­box cars and Fish­erPrice ed­u­ca­tional toys, has faced tough com­pe­ti­tion from video game mak­ers and other elec­tronic toys.

Bar­bie will work to help young girls close the so-called “Dream Gap”, to be­lieve in them­selves, and not to buy into sex­ist gen­der stereo­types.

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