Gender inequality is particularly an issue in the music industry where a sliver of all producers are women. Hoping to change this, Barbie just launched a doll and funded $50,000 in scholarships to empower more young girls to get into music production.
“Our intention is always to inspire girls through play to imagine their limitless potential,” Barbie senior vice president Lisa McKnight said in an emailed statement.
Each of the four dolls in this launch sports a trendy outfit with platform boots. Dolls come with a sound mixing board, computer and headphone accessories to show some of the tools producers use.
“We are constantly evolving Barbie to be a more relevant and modern reflection of the world for today’s kids and their families,” McKnight said. “When we learned that less than 3% of music producers were women, we chose to launch a Music Producer doll to expose girls to this exciting career and help close the gap that exists from the studio to the stage.”
The dolls also feature four different “fantasy hair styles so kids pick the doll that resonates most with them,” according to McKnight.
There are three major other components of the Music Producer doll launch.
A $50K Scholarship Donation and Partnership
Mattel is partnering with Girls Make Beats, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering and growing the presence of woman producers, DJs and audio engineers.
Founded in 2012, the nonprofit works with girls ages five to 17 in order to raise the next generation of woman producers while offering incredible opportunities. The partnership involves a $50,000 sponsorship from Mattel, which will fund over 30 scholarships to give more girls access to pursuing producing.
The MTV Takeover
Past dropping the $14.99 funkily-dressed doll, Mattel also landed an hour-long, Barbie-sponsored MTV takeover featuring hit songs exclusively produced by women.
“Our intention is to show that anyone can be a music producer by providing a vehicle for young girls to play out stories, use their imaginations, and raise their voices,” McKnight said.
The goal of the September 18 broadcast is to shine a light on the issue and inspire young viewers and changemakers.
The Barbie YouTube Channel Special
Hoping to lead by example, Barbie brought in Ester Dean—a Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and all around creative—to guest star on the Barbie YouTube channel which has nearly 11 million subscribers.
“I am honored to lend my voice to Barbie to inspire young girls to learn more about becoming a music producer,” Dean said. “Working together to ensure girls feel empowered and confident to believe they can be anything has been a dream.”
In Dean’s experience, there has been a bigger push for gender inequality over time, but the fundamental issues still remain, like women being consistently excluded from conversations and fair compensation.
“Creativity is a true gift, it is not easy to do and it’s a devastating blow to a person’s financial worth and self-worth when it’s used and yet not credited or fully compensated as their male peers with only one difference between them such as a title of producer,” Dean said.
The guest star vlog with Barbie and Dean is set to go live by the end of September.
The decision to make a Barbie Music Producer doll highlights the severity of the music industry’s issue with gender inequality. An early 2021 study found three major drivers of gender inequality in music with sexual harassments and objectification as one of the biggest challenges.
“Our ongoing global initiative gives girls the resources and support they need to continue believing in themselves,” McKnight said. “By showing girls role models in this space and giving the tools to pursue careers they otherwise may not have considered, we can help empower the next generation to transcend this gap.”