Fighting the gender gap in the music industry is not a role that Mattel’s Barbie doll traditionally has taken on, but the company has used the iconic figure for exactly that purpose with its awesome Music-Producer doll, which it announced earlier this week.
The company, which partnered with veteran songwriter-producer Ester Dean for the series, is making empowerment the primary theme for the doll too, saying it is “designed to introduce girls to an underrepresented career where women make up less than 3% of music producers and shine a light on the importance of women’s stake in the industry.
“Barbie recognizes the barriers that impede girls from reaching their limitless potential and aims to level the playing field for girls as part of the Barbie Dream Gap Project,” it continues. “With over 200 careers and counting, Barbie is mixing it up as a music producer to show girls more role models in this space and encourage purposeful play through careers they may not be familiar with.”
Barbie, which was first introduced in 1959, is also funding “Girls Make Beats” scholarships to give more girls access to pursue music production, and is hosting a live webinar with Dean and that organization, open to girls ages 5-17, to engage and help empower future female music producers. Also, on Saturday (Sept. 18) at 8 a.m. ET, Barbie and MTV will host an hour-long takeover of MTV’s Saturday Music Video Block to feature music hits produced exclusively by women. See Barbie.com/DreamGap to learn more and to join the “Girls Make Beats” webinar with Dean.
A USC-Annenberg study in 2018 pointed out the enormous gender gaps in the music industry, especially in the fields of production and engineering — and an updated report in March showed that while people of color have made advancements in recent years, women largely have not (head here for more on the study). Dr. Stacy L. Smith, who authored the study, wrote: “It is International Women’s Day everywhere, except for women in music, where women’s voices remain muted. While women of color comprised almost half of all women artists in the nine years examined, there is more work needed to reach inclusion in this business.”
Mattel has confronted this gender gap head-on.
“As part of our ongoing Dream Gap Project, Barbie is dedicated to leveling the playing field for girls in careers where women are underrepresented, like music producer,” said Mattel SVP Lisa McKnight. “By exposing girls to inspiring women excelling in this role, like Ester Dean, and by highlighting the music producer career with dolls, Barbie is reminding girls of their limitless potential. Our partnership with Girls Make Beats takes our efforts one step further, championing female voices from the studio to the stage and giving girls the tools to help them pursue a future as a music producer.”
“I am honored to lend my voice to Barbie to inspire young girls to learn more about becoming a music producer,” said Dean. “While female voices are heard from the stage, so many critical decisions are made behind the scenes and in the studio. Having been in the industry for over a decade, I’ve witnessed the power female voices can have in shaping the future of music production and want to ensure more women are in the room.”