New STEM-themed dolls inspire girls of color to dare to dream.
Every parent who may have had two-thoughts about buying a Barbie doll for their young children may be now pleased to find a Barbie doll that inspires a STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — positive mindset.
In an interesting collaboration between Mattel, National Geographic and University of Utah scientist Nalini Nadkarni, the popular toy manufacturer has probably for the first time idolized an Indian origin scientist for its new range.
The story behind this new range of Barbie dolls which also promotes diversity, centered around professions currently underrepresented by women such as exploration, science, conservation and research, is a rather interesting one.
Some 15 years ago, Nalini Nadkarni, a forest ecologist at University of Utah, thought of Barbie dolls that could represent her career and inspire girls to take up more STEM based studies and jobs.
However, she didn’t find any takers for her idea about dolls with rubber boots, helmets and science gear.
Undeterred she began creating her own dolls by buying dolls from thrift stores and dressing them up in STEM professionals’ gear through buys off eBay etc.
However, last year something unexpected happened. National Geographic reached out to Nadkarni about a licensing agreement between Mattel and National Geographic to create Barbie STEM dolls.
Nadkarni served on a five-member advisory panel to oversee the execution and ensure the authenticity.
The other panelists included National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg, marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, Harvard University astrophysics graduate student Munazza Alam and primatologist and conservationist Catherine Workman.
The new inspiring range of dolls comprise of Wildlife Conservationist, Astrophysicist, Polar Marine Biologist, Wildlife Photojournalist and Entomologist.
And most of all, there is also a doll made in the likeness of Nadkarni herself complete with boots, binoculars and a rope, inspiring millions of other brown girls like herself to dare to dream.