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Sept. 14: CMU Information Networking Students To Kick Off Countdown for New Computer Engineer Barbie Doll

Contact: Chriss Swaney / 412-268-5776 /

CMU Information Networking Students To Kick Off
Countdown for New Computer Engineer Barbie Doll

ComputerEngineerBarbiePITTSBURGH—Students from Carnegie Mellon University’s Information Networking Institute (INI) will kick off the countdown for a new “Barbie I Can Be Computer Engineer Doll” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24 at the INI building on Henry Street in Oakland.
Members of Women@INI will host CMU engineering alumna Erin Fitzgerald, who had a hand in making suggestions for what the new trendy computer engineer Mattel Barbie might look like. The doll comes out later this fall and can be ordered online. 
“Some might argue that it’s silly to get excited about a new Barbie doll. But I believe that technical role models for girls are important in any form because in recent years far less women than men are pursuing computer science degrees,” said Fitzgerald, who received her bachelor’s degree in 2002 in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon. She is currently an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the Research Directorate of the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering in the U.S. Department of Defense.
In January, Fitzgerald became involved in the project after receiving a call from the National Academy of Engineering soliciting ideas for what a Barbie doll might look like if she were a computer engineer.
Every few years Mattel announces a new career for Barbie. This year, Mattel gave consumers a choice of architect, anchorwoman, computer engineer, environmentalist or surgeon. All told, more than 600,000 votes were cast during a four-week period this past winter. 
Computer engineer Barbie won the popular vote. The result will be a ponytailed doll in black leggings and a top decorated in binary code that spells Barbie, and lots of pink accessories — pink chic glasses, Bluetooth headset and shoes. Barbie was designed to be a teenager and became an instant success when she was created in 1959, tapping into children’s desire to emulate older girls.
“What computer engineer Barbie will do is broaden the realm of not only what is possible, but also what feels accessible — being smart, confident, and tech-savvy without sacrificing femininity and fun,” said Fitzgerald, who also will give INI students a sense of what it is like to be a professional engineer.
“It’s important to let our aspiring women engineers celebrate this recognition of their career choice as an inspiration for modern girls. Women like the engineers at CMU are breaking the mold of past stereotypes,” said Dena Haritos Tsamitis, director of the Information Networking Institute and director of education, training and outreach for Carnegie Mellon CyLab.
Members of the Women@INI Program organizing the event include: Hanan Hibshi of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Ashley Keith of Fairfield, Ohio, who are pursuing master’s degrees in information security technology and management; Lirida Kercelli of Durres, Albania, and Prachi Wadekar of Mumbai, India, who are earning master’s degrees in information networking; and Krystal Ying of Plantation, Fla., who is earning a master’s degree in information technology-information security.