ESA and Mattel have released a Samantha Cristoforetti Barbie doll to coincide with World Space Week 2021 and its theme of ‘Women in Space’, to help encourage girls to become the next generation of astronauts, engineers and space scientists.
Previously a one-of-a-kind item, the new Samantha Cristoforetti Barbie is now available across Europe. Part of the proceeds from sales of the new Barbie doll will be donated to the Women in Aerospace Europe organisation to inspire the next generation by creating a bursary.
The ESA/Barbie partnership goes back to 2019, when ESA’s Communications Partnerships Unit arranged for two unique Samantha Cristoforetti figures to be used by Barbie Mattel Italia to promote their longer-term ‘Dream Gap Project’.
This project focuses on research that has shown that, due to cultural stereotypes and media representations, young girls start to think as they grow up that they are not suitable for certain types of activity.
The research also shows that women are still under-represented in STEM careers and even at a young age, girls say that they are least confident in their maths skills in school. This means that they are missing out on potentially fulfilling and highly paid careers in the industry.
Barbie has spent over 55 years inspiring girls through space careers, since the first Barbie astronaut doll ‘walked on the moon’ in 1965. Barbie has been an astrophysicist, space scientist and an astronaut, and dolls have been created in the likeness of real-life role models such as NASA‘s Sally Ride, Roscosmos’s Anna Kikina and now of course, ESA’s Samantha Cristoforetti.
The continued cooperation with Barbie sees Samantha’s doll sent on a Zero-G parabolic flight, as well as educational resources for parents and teachers produced in collaboration with ESA, to spotlight different space careers, and to teach primary school aged children more about space. The resources and videos can be downloaded here.
A new aspect of the collaboration is the creation of an educational bursary, available from Women in Aerospace Europe, a non-profit international organisation based in the Netherlands with the mission to promote diversity and excellence in the European aerospace sector. For details on how to apply for the Women in Aerospace Europe Outreach Award, see ‘the ESA x Barbie Bursary’.