When people think of Barbie, they might imagine her standing to attention immaculately dressed – not floating around on a zero-gravity flight.
But the brand has teamed up with the European Space Agency (ESA) and its only active female astronaut to inspire young girls to see the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Stem) field as a viable career option.
The collaboration sees Samantha Cristoforetti’s doll sent on a Zero-G flight and educational resources on space made available to parents and teachers.
A portion of the sales from the Barbie will be donated to Women In Aerospace to inspire the next generation by creating a Barbie bursary for a PHD student.
The doll had previously been a one-of-a-kind Barbie, but is now available across Europe.
To mark world space week, which begins on Monday, the doll departed from the ESA base in Germany and travelled on a Zero-gravity flight, modelling the preparation and experience of a real-life astronaut.
Samantha Cristoforetti, 44, from Italy, is an aviator, engineer, astronaut and is currently in training ahead of her next mission to the International Space Station in April 2022.
During her six-month stay, she will take on the role of commander and plans to take her doll on the mission with her to continue inspiring girls.
Ms Cristoforetti said: “Sometimes little things can plant the seeds of great dreams, who knows?
“Maybe the fun images of my doll floating in weightlessness will spark children’s imagination and lead them to consider a career in Stem.”
Research suggests women are still underrepresented in Stem careers and even at a young age, girls say they are least confident in their maths skills in school.
For details on how to apply for the Women in Aerospace Europe Outreach Award: The ESA x Barbie Bursary, visit: www.wia-europe.org