Toy company Mattel has partnered with Tynker, a computing platform, to bring coding to 10 million children internationally by 2020, according to a company announcement. The companies plan to introduce seven Barbie coding lessons to inspire young girls to look at careers as a pet vet, astronaut or robotics engineer.
The two companies formerly partnered in 2015 with the Hot Wheels and Monster High "programing experiences," which were brought to nearly 4 million kids.
The company is hoping to connect kids to coding "through Mattel characters they know and love," which could then help ignite a desire to pursue a more technically-based career, according to Sven Gerjets, CTO of Mattel.
Female representation in the technical workforce is dismal, particularly in cybersecurity. A mere 11% of the cybersecurity workforce is women, and companies like Mattel and Tynker are taking notice.
Exposing young children to a skill that is rapidly growing is pertinent to maintaining a healthy future workforce. Finding the right kind of leverage, whether it be through Girl Scout badges or Barbie, is also critical.
A combination of education and marketing is key in creating an inviting perception of IT. Currently, a lack of female representation in the technical workforce is one of the deterrents for young women pursuing a path in tech despite 62% of young women regarding those in the field as "highly intelligent."
Even with noted female representation, 60% of young women say they don't have enough experience in coding and therefore have a natural resistance to the field. If toy or children's company like Mattel were to continue to initiate programs that intertwine the love of childhood characters with skills needed in the 21st century, then a natural interest will arise.
If a Shamu-trainer Barbie can inspire a child to swim with a killer whale, a coding Barbie can certainly create a similar desire for tech.