Doll-making giant Barbie has created a doll resembling a female astronaut in a step towards motivating girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The company has partnered with European Space Agency (ESA) to launch their Barbie Dream Gap Project.

As part of the project it transformed astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, the organisation’s only active female astronaut, into a Barbie doll.

Barbie, Mattel chose Cristoforetti as its role model to design the Barbie doll. “Barbie has always shown girls that they can be anything, giving them the opportunity to interpret different roles through play and embark on countless number of careers encouraging imagination and self-expression,” Isabel Ferrer, European director of marketing for Barbie said, Independent reported.

“We know how important it is for girls to have role models and this new ESA collaboration helps us to take this to an astronomical new level.”

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Cristoforetti is thrilled with this partnership and said that she hopes that this will make young boys and girls to think beyond limits. Ersilia Vaudo-Scarpetta, chief diversity officer for the ESA added that the space sector needs diversity and inclusion of women talent to decide the future of space.

“We are therefore proud to launch ESA’s collaboration with Barbie, highlighting inspiring role models as the astronauts and encouraging girls to believe in themselves, look at the sky and dream high,” Vaudo-Scarpetta said.

Along with the doll, Barbie has also conducted a research to find out the attitudes of parents in order to enable their children to select STEM subjects. 2000 parents participated in the survey of which a whopping 80% said that they lack basic knowledge of STEM subjects themselves. Apart from this, a significant percentage didn’t know of female space scientists at all. On asking who do they know of as astronauts, almost all of them have heard of Neil Armstrong and Stephen Hawking.

While boys and girls generally achieve the same scores in science and math, few girls dream of becoming scientists, engineers, or space professionals

52% parents didn’t know of any of the names of the top female space astronauts. “While boys and girls generally achieve the same scores in science and math, few girls dream of becoming scientists, engineers, or space professionals,” commented Vaudo-Scarpetta. “Social and cultural factors play an important role as the attitude of the family environment towards science and scientific professions.”

Barbie first came into existence in 1959 and since then the successful doll has had over 200 careers. This is not the first time Mattel made an astronaut Barbie as in 1965 also it released an “Astronaut Barbie” wearing a silver spacesuit who, as per the company, “showed little girls they could reach for the stars.”

Picture credit- Independent

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