Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A different gift ...

UPDATE^2: It appears people are listening, the book is not longer available at Amazon, and Mattel issued an apology (in Time!) -- when a group works together ... Thanks all, including the groups that listened and acted/adjusted.

UPDATE: The SIGCSE/CSTA communities have rallied and developed some great responses to the original book, a few highlighted here:
Thanks for the thoughtful, and rapid, replies -- jd

Original Post:

There is a new book about Barbie and computer engineering, I think Mattel needs to get some feedback, it portrays a young girl only able to design a computer game and needing boys to implement.  Marie desJardins contacted the author directly and shared the reply to SIGCSE, copied below:

Thank you for your email. I am grateful that you have pointed this out to me. When I write Barbie stories, I always try to write them from a feminist perspective. The story of "Barbie Computer Engineer" was an assignment I got that had to be based on an existing Italian Barbie magazine story. My assignment was to rewrite the story for a book format. I never saw a final copy (I am just a lowly freelance writer, they don't send me copies).  I will order a copy and see what exactly I wrote that is upsetting people. While I take responsibility for what I wrote, you should be aware that I was obliged to follow the existing story and I do not know how Mattel changed the story after I wrote it.

I welcome the twitter controversy and I should have perhaps seen this and pushed with the editors to make the story better in terms of the way it portrays woman. I think Mattel should be more responsible towards the young girls affected by their content and I should too. I consider myself a feminist and have worked for many feminist causes so I was surprised by your email. Sometimes as a freelance writer you get lazy and just follow orders and forget to think about the young people you are affecting. Thank you for reminding me.

all the best,
Susan Marenco

I suppose it is a sincere response, but the damage is still there -- onto contacting Mattel directly? Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

So what can be done?

An article from Fast Company summarizing a few recent books and studies on the challenges of increasing both accessibility for women employees and this increasing diversity -- and yet another, explaining science is fine, it's the scientists.