Saturday, September 17, 2011

Architect Barbie

I learned about this new Barbie several months ago, but was a little annoyed at her design and decided not to say anything. I'm still annoyed, but after reading the article linked at the bottom of this post, I'm a little more understanding.

There are many things wrong with this Architect Barbie.

1. Women architects don't wear skirts on job sites. Duh... Ever tried to climb a ladder in a skirt? I was on a jobsite once in a skirt, right after I started working as an intern, and had not been given notice by the architect that I was going on a site visit that day. We were supposed to do a roof inspection on a church. I decided instead of giving the contractor a view of France, I'd stay on the ground.

2. Architects don't wear much color, especially not pink. In school, you're frowned upon if you wear anything other than black. Then you get out in the real world and realize only the "architects" who teach wear black all the time, like they are attending a funeral everyday. Maybe a funeral of their career as an architect because they take life too seriously.

3. We don't make ammonia blueprints anymore. We now print drawings directly from CAD to a large format printer that puts black toner on white paper. A lot less stinky.

4. The designers forgot the pantyhose. Thank goodness. I don't wear pantyhose because they're a pain in the butt. But when I do decide to wear a skirt to the office, I'm frowned upon for not wearing nylons. Seriously, this is 2011, I'm going to bare-leg it.

5. Side ponytail? Again, this is 2011, not 1980s.

6. The two things they got right: the hardhat (architects are not exempt from safety measures on the job site) and the black glasses. Take a look at any famous architect and they wear these black, thick framed glasses. I don't understand the whole thick frame part; I don't like having frames around items when I look at them. I do understand glasses, though, because we stare at computer screens all day and ruin our eyesight.

But then read this article, and realize there are reasons architect Barbie looks the way she does (like the prototype of Barbie's body, and the stereotypes we teach children). I look at her and think she's encouraging sexism in the workplace, but the designers look at her as encouraging little girls to consider architecture as their career and reducing sexist barriers. Does it work? I guess we'll look at the male:female ratio in the architecture field in 20 years and evaluate then. For future evaluation purposes, the office I work in currently has 13 licensed professionals and only 1 is female. 

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