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Astronaut Barbie has landed, and it’s one giant leap for women in STEM

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Hollie Richardson
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Astronaut Barbie has landed

A Barbie modelled on female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has been released, to inspire girls to make a career in STEM.

It’s been 50 years since man first stepped on the moon, but it was only recently that NASA confirmed it would finally be sending a woman up there

 It was also announced in 2015 that the Mars One mission will send four women to Mars by 2024, along with one male astronaut.

To celebrate these massive moments for women in space, Astronaut Barbie was launched on Wednesday (9 July), modelled on astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

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Cristoforetti, who is the only active female astronaut in Europe, has been presented with her one-of-a-kind doll after she was unveiled as a role model for girls as part of the Barbie Dream Gap Project.

Barbie and the European Space Agency (ESA) partnered up to create the doll in order to further inspire girls to become the next generation of astronauts, engineers and space scientists.

This collaboration is part of the Barbie Dream Gap Project, which is an on-going initiative with the goal of levelling the playing field for girls globally. Research has identified that starting at age five, many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs and doubt their full potential – this is called the Dream Gap.

Samantha Cristoforetti
Astronaut Barbie is modelled on Samantha Cristoforetti.

The new Barbie highlights the fact that only 15% of active astronauts are female and no woman has ever landed on the moon. It is also part of the Barbie brand commitment to highlight role models that show girls they can be anything and help close the Dream Gap.

Barbie recently conducted UK research around parental knowledge of STEM and their awareness of space careers and role models. Quite dishearteningly, it showed that over half of British parents have no awareness of the names of any of the top female space pioneers in contrast to knowing most of their male counterparts.

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“While boys and girls generally achieve the same scores in science and math, few girls dream of becoming scientists, engineers, or space professionals,” commented Ersilia Vaudo-Scarpetta, Chief Diversity Officer for ESA. “Social and cultural factors play an important role as the attitude of the family environment towards science and scientific professions.”

Isabel Ferrer, European Director of Marketing for Barbie, added: “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. 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.”

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Images: Barbie