I Am NOT a Barbie Girl

Almost every little girl growing up was given a Barbie doll, whether it was a princess, an everyday, or a career doll,  society has influenced girls to strive to fit the model of a Barbie Doll. On November 14, Buzzfeed, a blog covering current topics in entertainment, technology, and “life” in general, released an article on a book published by Mattel called “Barbie: I can be a computer engineer”.  Thinking this book would be written in order to encourage young girls to become interested in a technology field, I was very disappointed to find that Barbie had no insight on what to do. The book starts out with Barbie and her sister Skipper sitting in the kitchen. Barbie is furiously typing away creating a game that allows a user to use a cute little robotic puppy to complete tasks. First of all, Barbie had to create a game that had a puppy in it because if it was anything else, it would not be girly. Secondly, Barbie is not actually writing the program that will make the game run, she is simply designing it, she will “need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” Upon showing Skipper the game, a virus appears crashing Barbie’s computer. But have no fear, Barbie has her flash drive on her necklace because she has to accessorize. Barbie goes to plug-in the flash drive to Skipper’s computer, transferring the virus to that computer as well. If Barbie knew anything about computers, she’d know that when she plugged in the flash drive to her computer , it would transfer onto the flash drive.

Skipper’s computer then crashes and she looses her work. Barbie promises that she will get both computers fixed when she goes to school. But before Barbie left, Skipper hits Barbie with a pillow, starting a pillow fight. Stereotype much? Having a pillow fight is clearly the right move in this situation. Barbie tells Skipper that she’ll bring their laptops to school so that she can fix them. Barbie is sitting after class and her two friends, who happen to be males, begin talking to her. Barbie explains her situation prompting Stephan to reply with “It will go faster if Brian and I help”. The amount of sexism behind that reply is unbearable. Barbie, as a woman, clearly can not fix the laptops herself.

The moment that Barbie hands over the laptops, Brian and Stephan instantly fix them as if it was as simple as pressing a key. Boys to the rescue!The following morning Barbie gives her sister her laptop and believes that it was her that fixed both laptops and not the boys. Following the return of the Skipper’s laptop, Barbie presents her cute puppy program to her teacher, who just so happens to be a woman. Barbie’s teacher is blown away by her work and gives her an A+ and even extra credit. Congrats Barbie, you’re clearly a computer engineer. Couldn’t write a program or fix two laptops but you drew a cute puppy and wore a cute top when you presented the game. So sure Barbie, you can be a “computer engineer”.

This coming January, I will have the honor to attend one of the most prestigious education conferences in the country. Along with my three other female classmates and my teacher we will be attending Educon in Philadelphia. Our conversation will be: Closing the Gender Gap in Innovation: Engaging Girls in STEM.

This is an amazing opportunity. Not only will it benefit me because it shows I am passionate about pursuing a technology related career, but I hope to inspire other girls to get involved in technology. There are not enough women in the field of technology. It is male dominated and in the 21st century it should not be that way.

As a girl in the technology field, I do realize that it is not always the easiest thing to be a part of. But that did not stop me. Over the past four years I have taken programming classes, been apart of the Burlington High School’s Help Desk, attended various technology conferences and even got the opportunity to tour the Google office located in Cambridge. Being a girl does not mean that I have to be just a house wife, I can be whatever I want. To all you girls out there that are interested in the technology field, do not be afraid to pursue your dream. Just because Barbie is not a computer engineer does not mean you can’t.

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The effect of 10 seconds.

SnapchatWe all do it. We all have some form of one, social media that is. The latest trends in the social media world include Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook (yes this is still around), and now the newest member of the social media world, YikYak. These apps, mostly a fun way to show the world what you are up to, have started to become a new way of bullying. Once a harmless, enjoyable app, Snapchat and YikYak have become easy ways for people to write degrading comments about other people. The app YikYak, developed by Yik Yak, LLC, is an app that allows users to “Get a live feed of what everyone’s saying around you”. Each user is anonymous but only allows you to see the post of people that are in a 1.5 mile radius of your current location. Originally, this app was created for college students but because there is no formal sign up, people of all ages are able to use it (when downloaded from the App store, a warning that the app is for people of the ages of 17+ is displayed but easily dismissed) . When a ‘Yak’ is posted, other users are able to either “upvote” or “downvote” it. The number of votes a ‘Yak’ receives either increases or decreases the amount of time it will be posted. Because each post is anonymous, there is no way of knowing who posted the comment, meaning a user can post a comment about another person, whether it is true or not, and get away with it. With a single comment, someone’s life can be easily hurt. Most people do not realize the effect that one cruel comment can do to a person. Sure, this app has the potential to be a way to communicate with others in your area about events that are occurring, but from what I have personally seen, this app is only being used to hurt others reputation or making fun of people.

Halloween is coming up, and you know what that means, Snapchat will be sending out a Snap to each of its users. Evan Spiegel released this app in July 2011, changing the social media world. For up to ten seconds, a user can send a picture or video to one of their “Snapchat Friends” and then it disappears. Or so people thought. What many users do not know is that each and every Snap that is taken and sent is stored in the company’s servers. In the company’s servers? Well that does not sound too bad, it’s not like someone has to time to go threw all of them and see everyone’s pictures or videos, and no one could hack it because it must be a secured thing, right? Sadly, that is not true. With a simple search on the Google machine, I found a site that allows you to create an account, if you are 13 or older of course, that will hack you into Snapchat’s server, allowing you to see any pictures that have been sent. Makes you question every picture you have ever sent? That ‘ugly selfie’ you sent to your best friends or a promiscuous picture that you sent to your significant other has probably been viewed by countless others.  Nothing on the internet is temporary. Even if every trace is deleted, there is a way to find it. Next time you are about to Yak negatively about someone, or take a snap of someone and write a negative comment, remember that even if it is anonymous, or only last for ten seconds at most, there is a way to find it or trace it back to the original writer.

 

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