(CBS SF) — Mattel Inc. is under fire for botching Barbie’s latest attempt to empower girls in a new book titled I Can Be a Computer Engineer.

In it, Barbie is cast as a would-be computer engineer, who while designing a video game, accidentally puts a computer virus on her friend’s computer and can’t fix it without help from a boy.

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More complicated, technical aspects like coding appear to not be skills Barbie needs to succeed in the computer engineering field. Instead, the book shows her focusing on the design of a cute animals game she is creating from her hot pink laptop.



Amazon reviews from baffled parents question why the book is sending the opposite message and driving home stereotypes about the male-dominated tech field.

According to reviewer Rachel Apel:

“Barbie starts out at breakfast stating that she’s designing a game but when questioned by her sister Skipper, she admits, ‘I’m only creating the design idea, I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game’. Literally six sentences into the story, and already Barbie can NOT do it. She immediately admits she doesn’t know how to actually do computer engineering, and like a Disney princess, needs a white knight to rescue her.”


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Another reviewer thought the book should more aptly be titled  “I Can Manipulate Boys Intro Programming While I Sit Back and Tack Credit.”

Reviewer Misty wrote:

“WHY WHY WHY didn’t I have this jem of a book before I went to school to be a software engineer!!! After almost 20 years in the field, working my behind off, I had no idea I just had to flick my long blonde locks and have Steve and Brian do all the work for me. What the heck have I been thinking all these years! I can’t believe all of the long hours I have put in and all the hard work. I could have had life on easy street this whole time.”

The book also accompanies a Computer Programmer Barbie doll that comes with a hot pink laptop accessory.


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