Easy-Bake for all

Hasbro will meet with a 13-year-old New Jersey girl who wants a gender-neutral Easy-Bake oven suitable for her little brother.

McKenna Pope complained the oven  is only available in “girlie purple and pink colors,” she wrote in a petition on Change.org.

My husband asked for an Easy-Bake oven for Christmas more than 50 years ago. He didn’t care about the color. He just figured he could eat more cupcakes if he made them himself, instead of having to wait for his mother to bake.  Later he honed his cooking skills by working in a pizza place.

Gender scrambling is in, writes Hanna Rosin.

. . . Mattel unveiled the Mega Bloks Barbie line, which encourages girls to do what their brothers used to do to annoy them: take apart and rebuild the Barbie house. Lego’s surprise hit this season is a construction kit called “Friends” aimed at girls. Yes, it’s pastel colors, and the characters—Mia, Olivia, and Stephanie—are much curvier than your usual Lego figures. But their logos, printed on the boxes and online, are practical-minded construction type phrases such as: like, “Let’s get to work,” or “Let’s figure it out.”

Costco, meanwhile, is selling a “Police and Fire Playset” that looks remarkably like a dollhouse, with kitchens, bathrooms and loungy sofas and chairs, all in primary colors.

Other popular dollhouses this season stress “female independence,” writes anthropologist Lisa Wade. Instead of a “heteronormative” husband, wife, and children, kids can play with several Barbies and one Ken.

And we all know Ken is gay.

Barbie was right: Math is hard

The Is algebra necessary? debate is “insanely pointless,” writes Education Realist.

Elementary students do quite well in math, but stumble in higher grades when the math gets harder — even though their teachers know much more math, ER writes. “We have all forgotten the Great Wisdom of Barbie.” Math is hard.

In California, at least, tens of thousands of high school kids are sitting in math classes that they don’t understand, feeling useless, understanding deep in their bones that education has nothing to offer them. Meanwhile, well-meaning people who have never spent an hour of their lives trying to explain advanced math concepts to the lower to middle section of the cognitive scale pontificate about teacher ability, statistics vs. algebra, college for everyone, and other useless fantasies that they are allowed to engage in because until our low performers represent the wide diversity of our country to perfection, no one’s going to ruin a career by pointing out that this a pipe dream. And of course, while they’re engaging in these fantasies, they’ll blame teachers, or poverty, or curriculum, or parents, or the kids, for the fact that their dreams aren’t reality.

“Kids stuck in the hell of unfair expectations will go nowhere,” ER concludes.

 

Barbie gets her 'geek chic' on

Thanks to a campaign by female computer professionals, Barbie will be a computer engineer, reports the Wall Street Journal. “Please help us in getting Barbie to get her Geek on!” came the appeal from the blog GeekGirlCamp.

Mattel gave visitors to Barbie’s site a choice of careers for the job-hopping doll:  architect, anchorwoman, computer engineer, environmentalist or surgeon. More than 600,000 votes were cast during a four-week period this past winter.  Girls overwhelmingly wanted to see Barbie as an anchorwoman. But then female computer engineers “launched a viral campaign on the Internet to get out the vote and ensure Barbie would join their ranks,” the Journal reports.

The former fashion model, stewardess, dentist, astronaut, rock star and presidential candidate is going high-tech.

The result is a ponytailed doll in black leggings and a top decorated in binary code that spells Barbie, and lots of pink accessories—geek-chic glasses, Bluetooth headset and shoes.

Fewer women are majoring in computer science: In 2008, women received 18% of computer science degrees, down from 37% in 1985.  So women in the field are eager to encourage girls to consider computer careers.

After learning about the election from the National Academy of Engineers, Erin Fitzgerald, a science and technology fellow in the U.S. Department of Defense, helped get out the vote. “There is a perception that an interest in math, science and computers means being socially awkward and boring and sacrificing the opportunity to be creative and fun,” she says.

When Mattel asked women computer scientists how to design the new Barbie, they replied: ” ‘Make us look cool and hip.’ ‘Don’t put us in lab coats.’ ‘Don’t make us look like nerds.’ ”

The prototype was displayed at the International Toy Fair in New York Feb. 11.

Veronica Belmont, a San Francisco resident who has an online-technology video show and who says she snubbed Barbie as a girl in favor of toys she could take apart and reassemble, thought Barbie’s sparkly leggings and pink accessories “were over the top.”

“I found the pink condescending,” Ms. Belmont says, “but if it will get little girls’ attention and get them to play with computers, it’s a good start.”

Mattel says Computer Engineer Barbie — and News Anchor Barbie — will be in stores in the fall.

Episcopal Priest Barbie (via Instapundit) is not a Mattel-designed doll.

Burka Barbie

A burka-clad Barbie will be sold in a charity auction for Save The Children.

Barbie can leave her box only if escorted by Mullah Ken, sold separately, writes Tim Blair.

Please note the company isn’t producing these Barbies. A designer is taking regular, old Barbies and putting them in burkas.