“NEW YORK (MarketWatch) – It’s not just the cold that Elsa is bold enough to face — Disney’s popular Norwegian queen doesn’t seem to have a problem with coding either, and that may be an issue for Barbie.
Barbie has long been criticized for being too tall, too skinny, too unattainable a figure for American girls — the anti-role model, if you will. But last week she angered feminists — and that might just be one step too far.
In a serious blow to her street cred, Barbie tells young girls in a book that they should probably rely on the help of a man to build online games. The book was published by Mattel MAT, -2.98% in 2010, but was resurfaced last week by Disney writer Pamela Ribon.
Mattel quickly apologized for the book and pulled it from Amazon.com AMZN, -3.20% , saying the portrayal of Barbie in the story doesn’t reflect the brand’s vision for what Barbie stands for, which apparently is to empower girls to live in a world without limits, in its words.
Lori Pantel, vice president of global brand marketing for Barbie, apologized on behalf of Mattel and said the company has since reworked its Barbie books.
However, the apology might be too little too late, as Walt Disney’s DIS, +0.49% newest princesses, Elsa and Anna of ‘Frozen’, are rapidly becoming the new face of female heroism and feminism, even shattering Disney’s own stereotypes of the traditional damsel-in-distress princess.
‘Elsa kind of beats Barbie,’ said Code.org cofounder Hadi Partovi in an interview with MarketWatch.
Just as ‘Frozen’ has quashed female stereotypes, Code.org is trying to shatter the stereotype that computer science professionals are all geeky white and Asian men. Partovi said that misconception has long ‘held back’ the industry.
The ‘Frozen’ princesses have teamed up with Code.org to teach girls how to code through a game-like program that sends Elsa and Anna skating around the ice. The nonprofit has long used well-known characters, including Angry Birds, to popularize coding among young kids.
Meanwhile, as Barbie’s street cred wanes, Elsa’s is growing.
‘Frozen’ merchandise is expected to surpass Barbie as the top gift consumers are seeking for girls this holiday season, according to industry analytics company Prosper. In its latest monthly survey, the company found 20% of nearly 6,600 U.S. consumers picked ‘Frozen’ as the No. 1 most-sought-out item this holiday season, compared with 16.8% for Barbie.
Disney’s Frozen grossed more than $1 billion at the box office when it premiered in late 2013, making it the top-grossing animated film of all time. The media conglomerate has racked up millions of dollars in merchandising revenue since then.
The rise of the modern-day female heroine comes as the tech industry is at a crossroads.
Since activists pressured major Silicon Valley tech companies earlier this year to disclose their diversity figures (which were all painfully one-sided), a number of initiatives have been launched to get more women interested in computer science.
Treehouse, an online coding school targeted at adult men and women, wants to place 100,000 people in tech jobs by 2020. Google GOOGL, -1.55% , after unveiling its own rather uneven diversity figures earlier this year, launched Made with Code in June, with the aim of inspiring school-aged girls to write and develop programs. On-demand television company MobiTV will host a meet-up event in the Bay Area next Wednesday with Women Who Code.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said this week that equality between men and women is ‘against nature.’ It may be too harsh to associate Barbie with that remark, but perhaps the two could benefit from one of Elsa’s classes.
To quote the princess herself: ‘Here I stand, in the light of day, let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway.'”
Related post: https://www.t4a.org/diversity-in-computer-science/