Mattel Reveals Architect Barbie

5 03 2011

By Lizzie Bird

Look familiar? So while we were away in Brussels enjoying the mussels, chocolate and beer Mattel revealed last week that Barbie is to become an architect.

The firm said the latest incarnation of the 52-year-old doll, Architect Barbie, would appear this autumn as part of an ongoing series of career-themed dolls.  The architect edition of the doll includes heavy black-rimmed glasses, a hard hat, a small model of a pink house, a dress with a skyline print and a cylindrical document carrier containing blue prints.

Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has developed an impressive CV, with over 120 job titles from babysitter to astronaut, via ballerina, business executive, surgeon, gymnast, paleontologist, firefighter and teenage fashion model.

In early 2010 Mattel launched a public-voting system to decide Barbie’s next career move as part of the “I can be…” series of special edition dolls, with architect offered as one option.  But in February 2010 the results of the vote saw Barbie shun architecture to become a computer engineer. However, a campaign by architectural historian Despina Stratigakos, curator of a 2007 exhibition Architect Barbie and a professor at the State University of New York’s architecture school, appears to have been successful enough for Mattel to take notice.  Stratigakos is thought to be among the architects that collaborated with the toy manufacturer to create Architect Barbie.

See more at Also looks like its not just Barbie, Justin Bieber has also revealed his ideal job would be an architect?! See RIBA v Bieber and Barbie: the battle for architecture’s future at




3 responses

31 05 2011

Lizzie, I’ve been meaning to follow these links ever since you posted it months ago. Finally I’ve now read bd’s write up on the announcement of Architect Barbie and I’m astonished to see that it’s so lightweight. They’ve not taken the opportunity to make any reference to their 50/50 campaign of a few years ago when they undertook a big awareness-raising campaign around the lack of gender equality in the profession and lobbied practices throughout the country to sign up to the principle of employing 50/50 male/female ratios. The debate they raised in the magazine extended to the lack of ethnic diversity in the profession and in particular the dominance of the white, middle-class male in the top jobs. It was all backed up by research findings and statistics, which showed that at least half, if not slightly more women enter architecture at undergraduate level but fewer qualify fully, fewer still gain employment and then there is a dramatic fall in numbers employed mid-career and beyond and it is during this stage of an architect’s career that they are most likely to progress into senior roles. Which brings me back to Barbie and why I find her newest venture somewhat irksome. In her current incarnation she represents a generation of hopeful, youthful trainees who’s chances of competing on a level playing field, however pretty their dresses, are narrow. If Architect Barbie needs to exist (and I’d much prefer more recognition of real-life female architect) then she should in fact be 20 years older having gained a few grays, many pounds round the waistline and wrinkles from the effort it has taken her to succeed in running her own practice whilst bringing up a family in a male-dominated profession!

1 06 2011
Can Man Plan? Can Woman Plan Better? « NCL Urban Design Blog

[…] this postcard around the same time that I heard Mattel were to launch Architect Barbie (see Mattel Reveals Architect Barbie) was reported as finally some recognition for female architects in a traditionally male dominated […]

14 06 2011

Just seen this from Greeenpeace – Mattel destroying rainforests in Indonesia + Chainsaw Barbie Hunt

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