Barbie And ESA Launch Collaboration To Encourage Girls To Become Scientists
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Featured Image Credit: Barbie Dream Gap Project
It's a well-known problem that girls are not encouraged enough to pursue STEM subjects, so Barbie and the European Space Agency are launching a new collaboration to encourage girls to become the next generation of astronauts, engineers and space scientists.
The partnership is part of the Barbie Dream Gap Project, an initiative that aims to level the playing field for girls around the world. The name comes from worrying research that shows that at age five, many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs and doubt their full potential, called the Dream Gap.
The collaboration aims to inspire girls to pursue STEM subjects, such as space science, especially considering that only 15 per cent of active astronauts are female and no woman has ever landed on the moon.
Also involved in the partnership is the only active female astronaut in Europe, Samantha Cristoforetti. Samantha was presented with a one-of-a-kind doll in her likeness to inspire girls throughout Europe.
Samantha, an aviator, engineer, astronaut and the first Italian female crew member of the European Space Agency, says she hopes the collaboration "will help young girls and boys to dream about their future without limits".
As part of the celebrations around the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Samantha, 42, welcomed girls from the UK, Germany, France and Italy into the ESA European Astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany, where they spent time shadowing her and quizzing her about her unusual profession.
Barbie also commissioned research in the UK in June on the topic of parental attitudes and knowledge around STEM to see if this could limit girls pursuing space jobs such as astronauts.
The survey of 2,000 British parents of girls aged between three and 10 showed that while almost all parents knew about males in the space industry, such as Yuri Gagarin or Buzz Aldrin, a majority had no idea of any of the names of the top female space pioneers.
The research showed that a third of parents do not believe there are enough positive role models in space and STEM-related fields for girls. It also indicated that eight in ten parents admit to lack of knowledge of STEM careers and four in 10 admit they may be holding their daughter back from entering or learning about this type of career because of their own lack of knowledge in this area.
Child psychologist Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, who helped Barbie with the study, said she fears that a lack of parental knowledge about STEM careers and role models could be "cutting their child's dreams short before they have even got off the ground".
"Being a parent is a tough job, but one of the most rewarding parts has to be nurturing our children's dreams and ambitions, and when it comes to our daughters, we want those dreams to be limitless," said Dr Kilbey.
"This research shows that one of the most powerful things parents can do is to build their knowledge, including around STEM careers and positive female role models, to show our daughters that the sky's the limit when it comes to their future."