Serious career aspirations aren't the first thing most people associate with Barbie, the impossibly thin, high-heel-loving fashion doll.
Still, Barbie's maker, Mattel Inc., thought it would be interesting to ask young girls who visited the Barbie.com Web site to vote on what the doll's next career should be. Mattel gave them a choice of architect, anchorwoman, computer engineer, environmentalist and surgeon. All told, more than 600,000 votes were cast during a four-week period this past winter.
Girls the world over overwhelmingly cast their ballot for anchorwoman Barbie—"not a surprise, as girls see Katie Couric and a lot of other female anchors," says Stephanie Cota, senior vice president of marketing for the Barbie brand. But what happened next, she says, "blew us away."
The voting was open to anyone, and nobody could vote more than once. But by the end of the first week, a growing flood of adult votes for computer engineer Barbie trumped the popular choice. Female computer engineers who learned about the election launched a viral campaign on the Internet to get out the vote and ensure Barbie would join their ranks.
"Please help us in getting Barbie to get her Geek on!" came the appeal from the blog GeekGirlCamp.com.
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