Inspiring future women in STEM: Barbie & Tynker’s #YouCanBeAnything campaign

After 4 years studying for my molecular biology undergrad, and now 4 years trying to get my PhD, what would you say if I told you that one of my favourite and my best subject at school was French? I loved going to every single French lesson I had doing literature reviews and writing essays that I seemed to be much better at in French than English. But I am still obsessed with learning languages and just wish I had kept up those skills that came so naturally to me all those years ago. So, you might be thinking why on earth didn’t I study French at university? Believe me I thought about it. A lot. I even tried to find a course where I could study the part of biology that fascinated me the most at the time – genetics – with french! I actually found that exact course at the University of Manchester. Still confused as to why I am here now? I am too now as I think back about these decisions my younger self made! But I was more fascinated by biology whereas I just had a passion for French and learning languages. And surely I had more job prospects being a scientist right?

Back then, I had no visible role models. No role models to follow into science, or linguistics as a matter of fact! There was no social media campaigns, scientists sharing their journeys on social media or social media communities of women in STEM building each other up.

That is one of the reasons I am so passionate about it now. All these platforms I have at my fingertips allows me to pass on any knowledge, resources and experience I have had to help make young girls, and boys, make those important decisions about their future careers. The same knowledge, resources and experience that I wish had been around 10 years ago when I was making those decisions. That is also why I am supporting Barbie & Tynker’s #YouCanBeAnything campaign.

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I am really passionate about science education and – hopefully – inspiring the future young minds of STEM. So, I was honoured to be contacted by the CTO of Mattel, Sven Gerjets, who like me are passionate about education and inspiring the future engineering talent pool. They very kindly gifted me this special set of Robotics Engineer Barbie dolls to gift to young girls in my life & introduce them to Tynker to help them realise that they can be anything they want to be – and that includes a scientist or a robotics engineer!

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What is the #YouCanBeAnything campaign about?

When I was growing up, I was, and still am, a bit of a tomboy. But that still didn’t stop me playing with Barbie. I remember having a wooden display case to keep them in but also that I wasn’t girly enough to care about the hair, the clothes and the make up.

But Barbie has had a revolution since my play days. This special set of Barbie dolls are diverse, not an unrealistic body shape but also encouraging girls to explore STEM through imaginative play with Robotics Engineer Barbie – but also learn real coding skills through a partnership with Tynker.

Tynker has helped more than 60 million kids learn to code in a fun and engaging way. With only 12% of engineers being female today, the Tynker-Barbie programming is aiming to introduce 1 million girls to coding through their courses alone.

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Unboxing the Robotic Engineer Barbie dolls

I actually complete forgot that I was expecting this delivery so when the delivery man knocked on my door last week and I was greeted with this massive brown box I questioned what on earth it was. It wasn’t until I had opened it up and removed the reams of paper inside to reveal a smaller white box that I realised what was inside.

This smaller white box labelled with the iconic logos Barbie and Tynker sparked an incredible excitement in me. But what was inside sent me straight back to my childhood bedroom and that wooden display case full of Barbies – except these were much much cooler.

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Learn to code with me

It seems appropriate that I share this post on Ada Lovelace Day. Ada Lovelace wrote the first ever computer program waaay back in the 1800s before there were even computers and as such on the second Tuesday of October we celebrate the accomplishments of women in STEM. Now I know I can’t gift these Barbies to every little girl out there. I don’t have that kind of money or power but what I can do is introduce as many of you to the world of Tynker coding. Just head to Barbie.com/Coding to get started.

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I might be 8 years into 3 biology degrees and specialising in stem cell metabolism, but I always have and always will have a passion for learning. It’s probably why I’ve been a student for so long. But now my student days are behind me I don’t want that to end so my next aim is to learn code, or at least try! And I would love for you all to try it with me as I embark on the lessons that Tynker coding has devised.

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Why am I learning code at this age I might hear you ask? Well, according to the World Economic Forum, the amount of technology skilled resources needed in the workplace will double by 2030. So, if we don’t inspire more young minds into the engineering field now, or learn new skills like programming, then we may not create the diverse future workforce we need for out companies to thrive.

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So, to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, I want you to introduce a young girl in your life to Tynker & show them the fun that can be had learning to code to celebrate all the past, present and future women in STEM. Make sure they know that they can be anything!

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Who are the women in STEM that inspire you most? Maybe that’s a pioneer of a field, someone you work with or someone you follow on social media. Let me know in the comments. Also I want to know if there are any future women in STEM in your life? What fascinates them? Or maybe you want to inspire the young minds in your life with STEM? Share you story.

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Science love.

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9 thoughts on “Inspiring future women in STEM: Barbie & Tynker’s #YouCanBeAnything campaign

  1. This is such a brilliant post and when my masters is over I definitely want to learn to code along with other things that I haven’t had the energy and time for while being a student! I loved Barbie as a child too so this is definitely a way to get me into coding! Thank you for sharing this and being so inspirational!

    1. Thank you so much. I want to blog my journey learning to code so Ill share any tips or resources that I find useful or not! What are the other things you want to do? I would love if you shared this campaign with a young girl or family in your life to help spread the word πŸ™‚ And thank you πŸ’•

      1. I really really want to learn german and sign language. I did a german GCSE and similar to you with french, I loved languages but chose science because I thought it was a more stable future! Sign language has always been important to me so that I can communicate science to a wider audience and there have been a few times when I’ve been frustrated by not being able to talk to someone just because they’re deaf!
        I will definitely spread the word! You’ve inspired me to do a blog post for tomorrow about it and build on what you’ve said if that’s ok? Also I used to be on the women in science and engineering committee at uni so will tell them about it! πŸ˜€

      2. I did German GCSE too so would love to get that skill back too. And youve read my mind about the sign language thing. Ive found a great resource about science sign language so keep your eyes peeled for that on Instagram πŸ™‚ Ive never had the issue of not being able to communicate to deaf people but I want to be prepared for it. Thank you. Of course thats okay. I will just ask that you link back to here πŸ™‚ and yes please spread the word and of course ask them to follow Soph talks science too :p

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