Mattel's Incompetent Barbie Book Gets the Hook

Is the concept of Barbie being inept a thing of the past? Well, if it persists then the general public will be irate, at least according to the reaction to a kids book published a few years ago has generated.


Many consumers are taking to social media to show their dissatisfaction with a 2010 Random House book entitled 'Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer,' which has Mattel portray the iconic doll as an incompetent computer engineer and must seek regular assistance from her male colleagues.


It's a picture book that was marketed towards girls between the ages of three and seven. The main premise of the story is that Barbie is creating a computer game that simulates cute puppies teaching mathematics. According to a summary by Tech Times, however, one section of the book consists of the pink dressed Barbie breaking various computer equipment and doesn't understand the coding process. She later employs the aid of Brian and Steve to perform programming duties.


'I'm only creating the design ideas,' Barbie laughingly utters. 'I'll need Steven and Brian's help to turn it into a real game!'



As the story progresses, Barbie inserts her flash drive into her sister Skipper's laptop and unknowingly infects it with a virus - it turns out the files weren't backed up. A battle ensues between the two women, one that will end their hostilities: a pillow fight.


Does this sound like an antiquated depiction of women in technology? The reviews say yes.


The Barbie franchise issued an apology on Facebook on Wednesday explaining how their actions were wrong and that they 'believe girls should be empowered to understand anything.' The book was also pulled from Amazon and Barnes & Noble after it reached a critical stage in public relations, though the doll is still around and selling for nearly $200.


'We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits,' Barbie's Facebook post says. 'We apologize that this book didn't reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girls imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.'


How did the book even make it to publishing? According to the author Susan Marenco, who has worked for Microsoft for 10 years and has penned other 'I Can Be' books, explained to ABC News that she may have been on deadline.


'If I was on deadline, it's possible stuff slipped out or I quietly abided by Mattel without questioning it. Maybe I should have pushed back, and I usually I do, but I didn't this time,' said Marenco.


It has been noted that blogger Pamela Ribbon was one of the first to pick up the story and she wrote about it on her blog. The traffic was so immense that it was later republished on Gizmodo. It has since blown up across the social networks. Also, there is now a website where you can 'fix' the book's pages.


Perhaps the book could be retitled to 'Can I Be A Computer Engineer?'


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