Last Wednesday, I suddenly saw women I interact with on Facebook posting about a Barbie computer engineer book. I quickly realized that they were complaining about how crappy the book was and how it showed Barbie needing help not looking to solve her own problems. I started reading articles that had screen shots of the pages of the book. I wasn’t seeing all of the drama. So I jumped on Amazon and downloaded the book to Grace’s Kindle. Grace is our 8 year old and she is in 3rd grade.
When I got home, I told her I put a book on her Kindle that I wanted to read with her. Before I could get time with her, I found her reading the new books on her Kindle. She then claimed my lap and read both of the books to me. (It is a set when you buy it on Amazon.) I am glad I bought when I did because Mattel has pulled the book.
After Grace finished reading both books to me, I asked her what she thought about Barbie wanting to be a computer engineer. She said. “It was awesome. I LOVE Barbie books.” Just as I had expected, Grace didn’t see anything wrong with Barbie getting help from some boys, having a pillow fight with Skipper, or using a pink laptop. Grace saw it as a Barbie story.
So while Mattel is busy apologizing for the book that was written in 2010 before they changed their approach to how they write about STEM and, I am sure, other careers, my 8 year old is happy over here enjoying the book.
Why does any of this matter? I have a BS in Computer Engineering. I specifically sought out a college where my diploma would say Computer Engineering instead of “Electrical Engineering”. There were (and still are) limited options on where you can get a Computer Engineering degree. My degree is from Virginia Tech and I am darn proud of it because I think I sold part of my soul to earn that degree. It is a hard degree program and one that I am proud to have completed.
I remember being the only girl or one of two girls in all of my higher level engineering classes. Did I wish there were more girls in the program? Sure. Do I wish there are more now? Sure! I can tell you, though, that telling a girl it is a great program when she is 8 isn’t going to get her through it. There has be a sheer will and determination in that girl with a love for engineering stuff that she just can’t explain.
So here I sit, a Computer Engineer not being offended by I Can Be a Computer Engineer. It took me awhile to figure why I wasn’t offended but I have managed to narrow it down to 5 lessons that Barbie learned that all Computer Engineers should learn too.
You have to learn to work with everyone.
You can’t pick that you just want to work with girls. You work with others and you learn together. My husband is used to me saying I am having lunch with the guys. It isn’t just slang saying “guys” instead of girls and guys. It is really lunch with the guys. My current work assignment doesn’t have any developers on it and I am willing to admit that I miss working with the guys!
It is OK to get help.
“The guys” offered to help Barbie get her files back from the hard drives. They said it would go faster if they helped. If people that know how to do IT stuff offer to help, take it. One person can only work so fast so yeah, two people working on something makes it go faster.
I wish more people I work with professionally accepted help as well as Barbie did. You know those people that know it all even when they don’t! Asking for help is an asset these days. Learn to ask for help and maybe you will learn something too!
On the topic of learning, keep learning.
It is obvious in this story that Barbie isn’t a computer engineer … yet. She is learning. We all need to be learning.
I always said I would never go back to school, but I did. I completely changed my course of studies and went for a Masters in Education, but I did it. Sure you will mess up but keep learning and keep living.
Sure a pillow fight after your sister loses your homework and pictures is completely unrealistic but honestly the temper tantrum that would happen between sisters doesn’t make a good story.
While a pillow fight doesn’t happen much unless all three of my kids pile on our king-sized bed, fun does happen. Maybe it’s a lunch out with a co-worker or a inside joke. You need to have fun. Life is made for living, not for just working.
It’s OK to be a girl.
You are one so claim it! Take that pink laptop, Barbie, and love it!
I have a pink mouse that I love. I got it so that “the boys” at work wouldn’t take it. I love my pink mouse and it was worth every penny when one of the developers had to use my pink mouse for a presentation and cringed at the thought. I just smiled at him and told him his other option was the laptop touch pad. He used the pink mouse and lived to tell about it.
So while Mattel is back pedaling for this book being out still, this computer engineering is taking it and seeing the life lessons the book has to offer and accepting the fact that her 8 year old loved the book.