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Barbie tackles gender diversity in Australian leadership roles in new campaign


By Danielle Long | Acting APAC Editor

March 30, 2018 | 5 min read

Barbie is highlighting the lack of gender diversity in senior leadership positions across Australia with a limited-edition range of dolls.

Barbie Australia

Barbie is on a mission to showcase the lack of gender diversity in senior leadership

The Never Before Barbie collection features six dolls themed in roles that have never been held by women: chairman of the AFL, commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, governor of the Australian Reserve Bank, head of ASIO, president of the Australian Olympic Committee and first woman on the Moon.

The campaign is based on the idea, that you can’t be what you can’t see, and aims to inspire girls to strive for leadership positions.

Mattel marketing director Chedney Rodgers told The Drum, “Since Barbie was first created by Ruth Handler, she’s been used by children across the world to help transport them in to who and what they want to become. By creating dolls that highlight significant roles that have never been filled by women, Barbie hopes to inspire the next generation of girls to believe that they can achieve senior leadership positions in whatever career path they choose to follow.

“Ultimately, we hope this campaign has served as an important reminder to girls and parents across the country of the work that remains to be done, and importantly, act as a source of inspiration for girls to strive for positions that are typically held by men.”

Rodgers said the campaign aims to ensure that “Barbie represents the choices that women have in life” and is “our small part to helping the next generation of women break through glass ceilings across the country.”

Mattel chose the high profile and highly respected roles to showcase the lack of female representation in these fields, according to Rodgers.

“The Never Before Barbie dolls are based on senior, public-facing leadership roles across the country, and in the instance of First Woman on the Moon Barbie, across the globe. The six roles chosen were selected due to the fact that they carry significant responsibility to the Australian community and are all roles that help shape the country in various ways.”

As part of the campaign, Mattel has partnered with one of Australia’s largest communities for women, Business Chicks, to support and inspire women through the group’s regular events. The campaign is also supported by social and PR activity.

“We believe in inspiring young girls as we know, you can’t be what you can’t see – so for Never Before Barbie, we wanted to provide tangible representation of Barbie in roles that have never before been held by women, to help young girls believe that they can be anything they want to be.

“By shining a light on these roles, and the large number of roles nationwide that have never been filled by women, we hope to act as a role model for young girls and encourage them to strive for leadership positions in whatever career path they choose,” Rodgers said.

The campaign follows similar initiatives by Barbie in other markets, as part of the ‘Inspiring Women’ collection that Barbie created to honour trailblazing women. For International Women's Day, Barbie turned 17 role models into dolls including aviator Amelia Earhart, artist Frida Kahlo, mathematician Katherine Johnson and ‘Wonder Women’ director Patty Jenkins.

Mattel worked with Clemenger BBDO Melbourne to create the campaign.

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