Feminist Barbie Computer Engineer

I added my own remix of Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer.


“What are you doing, Barbie?” asks Skipper. “You haven’t moved from your laptop for hours!”
“I’m learning how to code, Skipper. This language is called Processing. It’s a good language for new learners, and it does amazing things with graphics. I can also program electronics like Arduino!”

“This puppy is so cute!” says Skipper. “You say you coded this?”
“I did!” beams Barbie. “I learned how to plot the shapes on the screen and use RGB color values. I also scaled the size and position of the eyes and nose so the puppy looks cute, and it’s all written in a reusable function!”

Barbie continues, “I’m working on a team project where each program will play against the others in a game like capture the flag. I get to help create an artificial intelligence algorithm – and see how everyone else in the class created theirs! It’s a cool project and I can’t wait to see how it turns out…. wait, what is THIS?”

“What’s going on, Barbie?” asks Skipper.

“Skipper, you have some mean comments on your Instagram photo from people I don’t even know. You never did change your privacy settings, did you?”
“Mean comments? Oh my gosh, those are horrible! Who would say such things to a random girl they don’t even know?”

“I hope this part of internet culture changes a lot over the next few years, Skipper,” says Barbie thoughtfully. “People like us need to make it clear to everyone else that you need to be just as polite online as you should be in person. For now, though, kid sister, you’ve got to take some steps to protect yourself. You’re 13. Lock down your privacy settings. Block those haters. Do not respond to them, and if you see it repeatedly, make sure you involve a trusted adult, OK?”

“But I want to be a famous YouTuber, so how will I get discovered if I lock down my privacy settings?”
“You are ridiculous, Skipper. Let’s talk later about maintaining your social media footprint. I’m heading to school. Don’t give up your day job!”


In her Computer Science class, Barbie brings up a debate her team had earlier that week. “Ms. Johnson, my team can’t decide between a more defensive strategy or a more offensive one for our capture the flag project. Do you have any suggestions?”
“Barbie, there’s a time when either strategy would be appropriate, and as you learn more about searching, game theory, and recursion, you’ll discover ways to look many moves out and determine which move of yours gives you the best chance of a winning outcome. Beginners usually have to run simulations on many different strategies and collect data. If you’re willing to put some effort into it, you, Steven, and Brian can play your strategies against each other and use data to determine the one for your final project.”
“I love a good challenge,” replies Barbie. “Steven and Brian, get your spreadsheets ready.”


“Barbie, Steven and I are going for coffee. Do you want anything?”
“Triple Americano, thanks Brian. I’ll keep plugging away at these simulations,” says Barbie gratefully.
“Barbie, can we talk?” asks Steven, crossing his arms. “You keep telling us what to do. We think you’re getting bossy.”

“Look.” Barbie pushes her glasses up. “You guys felt really strongly about your three-on-one strategy and put a ton of work into developing the algorithm. You could be right about it being better than my two-on-two. I’m open to all the possibilities, and I’ve listened to you every step of the way and never once called you bossy. Ms. Johnson suggested we do the thorough testing, and this is something we agreed on as a team. I really want to do this right.”

Barbie leans in and continues. “When it seems like I’m getting intense, you can chat with me about it without calling me a sexist label. Thanks for the Americano, and I’ll take a break after I have the coffee and we can analyze what we have so far and move forward.”



Weeks later, the team meets in the media center. “Barbie,” Steven says, “I have to admit, the hard work paid off and I feel really confident in a victory in the class tournament. If nothing else, I learned a ton from the process.”

“Yeah,” Brian chimes in. “Our algorithm is robust, abstract, and flexible. We have reusable functions and our code is even well-commented.”

“We taught ourselves object-oriented programming as well. I’m proud of our work for sure,” smiles Barbie. “We also had some tough times as a team, but overcoming those somehow makes the result better. I’m adding this project to my virtual portfolio so I can use it on college applications. Here, Steven, since you don’t have a Dropbox account, I made you a copy.”


“We did it!” shouts Brian at the conclusion of the class Capture the Flag tournament. “In our class, there were eight teams. Two didn’t finish, one got stuck in an infinite loop, one had a stack overflow, and we beat the other three!”
“This story wasn’t going to end any other way, because it’s a children’s storybook,” Barbie reminds Brian. “I recognize the other teams also learned a lot. But I’m proud of us for the problem-solving and hard work we did. If more people realized what it really feels like to be a computer engineer, there would be more of us out there. Oh, dude, did you get your acceptance letter to MIT?”

“Absolutely!” grins Brian. “I’ll see you on campus in the fall. There’s a coffee shop on campus that makes a phenomenal Triple Americano.”


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About dupriestmath

I'm a former software engineer who has taught middle school math and computer science for the past 6 years. I believe every kid has the right to be a thinker. I started this blog to save resources for integrating programming in the Common Core math classroom. I also use it to save my lessons and reflections from teaching budding computer scientists! Coding has transformed how I teach and think. You'll love what it does for you. You should try it.

2 responses to “Feminist Barbie Computer Engineer”

  1. Scott Mitchell says :

    Haha, I like your version and it would have not caused any controversy. People are going crazy over the original one

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