The doll-maker pays tribute to Italian female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in its ‘Dream Gap Project’.
With the aim to inspiring more girls to joining the next generation of astronauts, engineers and space scientists, the ESA partners with Barbie to launch a doll that looks just like Samantha Cristoforetti, the only active female astronaut in Europe.
“Barbie has always shown girls that they can be anything, giving them the opportunity to interpret different roles through play and embark on countless number of careers encouraging imagination and self-expression,” said Isabel Ferrer, European Director of Marketing for Barbie.
“We know how important it is for girls to have role models and this new ESA collaboration helps us to take this to an astronomical new level,” she added.
To kick off the collaboration, a series of motivational videos will be released, in which Ms Cristoforetti will show girls from the UK, Germany, France and Italy around the ESA European Astronaut centre in Cologne.
There will also be kids-targeted content on Barbie’s YouTube blogger channel, highlighting Ms Cristoforetti’s achievements.
Women remains to be largely outnumbered by men in space.
Currently, only 15% of active astronauts in the world are female and, 50 years on from the first person landing on the moon, no woman has ever landed on the moon.
Key facts about Samantha Cristoforetti:
42-year-old Cristoforetti is an aviator, engineer, astronaut
She is the first Italian female crew member of the European Space Agency.
She is known for being first person to brew an espresso coffee in space.
She has been in space for around 200 days.
About the Dream Gap Project:
Mattel, the company behind Barbie, launched the Dream Gap Project after an academic study in 2017 found that by age 5, girls already tend to think they're not as smart as boys. "Research shows that children pick up on cultural stereotypes at a very young age that suggest [that] women aren't as smart as men," Mattel representatives said in an online description of the project.
They cited research finding that girls are three times less likely than boys to receive a science-related toy. And as they grow older, girls tend to lose their belief that they can someday be an astronaut or work in computer programing or do any of the other jobs culturally associated with men.
Barbie’s efforts in advocating diversity:
Once faced backlash for creating unrealistically perfect images for girls, the American dollmaker has been investing heavily in its diversity campaigns over the past few years. In its latest ‘Shero campaign’, the brand nods to inspiring women and debuts dolls of artist Frida Kahlo and fencing champion Ibtihaj Muhammad.