Can Playing With Barbie Ruin Your Daughter's Future Career?

A study reveals that the iconic doll represses girls' career ambitions.

(Photo: Tracheotomy Bob/Flickr)

Mar 7, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

A new study agrees with what many feminists have argued all along: Barbie crushes dreams.

On Wednesday the journal Sex Roles published a paper from Oregon State University detailing a study of responses by 37 girls, ages four to seven, to the leggy blond doll.

Scientists found that when asked about 10 occupations, including teaching, medicine, and law enforcement, the girls who played with Barbie “thought that they could do fewer jobs than boys could do.”

By comparison, those who were given a Mrs. Potato Head, the plastic spud with interchangeable personalities, believed that they had as many career options as boys. They chose Mr. Potato Head’s better half because she’s similar in color and texture, without quite having Barbie’s sex appeal.

Additionally, scientists found no difference between subjects who played with “career” Barbie and those who chose the stiletto-heeled, minidress-wearing version.

Meanwhile, a crowdsourcing campaign to create an “Average Barbie” has more than doubled its $95,000 funding goal.

“[Playing with Barbie] creates a limit on the sense of what’s possible for their future,” OSU’s Aurora M. Sherman said. “While it’s not a massive effect, it is a measurable and statistically significant effect.”

Mattel’s recent efforts to reverse the doll’s sales slump include having her in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread.