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Architect Barbie

Earlier this month in New York City toy brand Mattel launched Barbie’s latest incarnation – an architect!

Architect Barbie

The newest in Mattel’s ‘I Can Be…’ series, in which Barbie has taken guises including veterinarian and news anchor, Architect Barbie is the result of a campaign by architectural historian Despina Stratigakos and architect Kelly Hayes McAlonie.

Stratigakos, the author of A Woman’s Berlin: Building the Modern City, made a statement in 2007 bemoaning the male domination of licensed architectural practice when she staged her own exhibition Architect Barbie.

In order to get this latest addition to the toy range going, Stratigakos and McAlonie teamed up and campaigned long and hard through 2010 after Mattel put out a call for votes for Barbie’s next career move. The outcome is a traditionally blonde doll, sporting spectacles and a blueprint tube, along with a hardhat. 

The latest at work Barbie was not without controversy when launched, however, many claimed that skirt and long blonde hair didn’t really reflect the typically ‘cool’ image associated with an architect. 

Architect Barbie, and the time it took to be included, also speaks to the wider industry debate around women in design and how they are often not given the due credit they deserve. On the positive side of that debate, at least now young girls can dream of their futures in the construction industry and be the ones to bring about gender parity. 



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