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Doctors tell Barbie ‘stop wearing high heels’ and inspire more surgeons | Tech News


Surgeons are calling on Barbie to follow in their footsteps (Picture: Mattel/Getty)

Barbie needs to expand her range of medical specialties to encourage the next generation of surgeons – and stop wearing high heels while she does.

That’s the finding of a study into the range of Barbie dolls currently working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers.

Medical researcher Katherine Klamer analysed 92 Barbie career dolls, and found that while 53 were doctors, most had either no specialty or were paediatricians.

In addition, more than half (59%) were white, and none had a visible disability.

They were also lacking in adequate PPE – something we’re all experts on after Covid – with only 4% sold with face masks and disposable gloves.

More than two thirds also had loose hair and more than half wore high heels, both very bad for health and safety in a hospital.

Most doctor Barbies with a specialty are paediatricians (Picture: Mattel)

Ms Klamer said that while themed dolls help to inspire tomorrow’s medical professionals and scientists and she urges all toy companies to create better, more accurate, and professionally diverse medical professional and scientist dolls.

‘For young girls’ sakes as much as her own, Barbie must keep shattering glass ceilings,’ she said.

In a follow-up comment, Sareh Parangi, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues also encouraged Barbie manufacturer Mattel to diversify their medical Barbies.

‘As surgeons in decidedly male dominated fields, we support Klamer’s conclusion that Barbies should represent a more diverse field of medical and scientific professions and that safety comes before fashion,’ they wrote.

Most doctor Barbies were lacking in PPE and wore their hair down – both bad for health and safety (Picture: Mattel)

The team also noted that female medical students are still disproportionately discouraged from pursuing surgical careers even at prestigious institutions, and say perhaps a childhood of playing with neurosurgeon Barbie or trauma surgeon Barbie could inoculate girls against sexist career assumptions and advice.

And while Barbie may commonly be a paediatrician because young children are more likely to connect with role models they have met in real life, almost four million children undergo surgery every year.

‘We encourage and would welcome the creation of a surgeon Barbie, and would be happy to advise Mattel on the correct accompanying equipment and PPE to make sure the doll is realistic and fun,’ they wrote.

‘With an expanded line, Barbies can be inspirational to young girls’ views of surgeons and scientists, rather than allowing these careers to be aspirational.

‘What better way than to have Barbie be the first as she has done in the past?’


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