Mattel announced Tuesday a multi-year global initiative to raise awareness around factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential.

The initiative will involve Barbie and be known as the Dream Gap Project, Mattel said in a statement.

“Research has identified that starting at age five many girls are less likely than boys to view their own gender as smart and begin to lose confidence in their own competence. Cultural stereotypes, implicit biases and representation in media work together to further this issue. In the United States, this has been referenced as the `Dream Gap,’ but there are similar trends seen around the world,” Mattel said in a statement.

Girls’ belief in themselves is affected by these limiting factors, “so Barbie is dedicated to funding research, highlighting positive role models and rallying a community around supporting girls through The Dream Gap Project.”

The notion of a Dream Gap is still a relatively new concept and is under-researched, especially in girls 5-7 years old. To help, the brand is collaborating with Associate Professor Andrei Cimpian of New York University to fund a two-year post-doctoral fellowship on this issue. Globally, Barbie will work with local researchers to extend these studies and find out more about girls around the world.

“Since 1959, Barbie has inspired the limitless potential in every girl and we believe that empowering them at a young age is a catalyst to unlocking their full potential,” said Lisa McKnight, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Barbie. “The goal of The Dream Gap Project is to leverage Barbie’s global platforms to educate society on gender biases and inspire any supporter of girls to join us as we can’t do this alone.”

Cimpian said: “Our research is just the beginning — we need to dedicate more resources to this important topic so that we can better understand how to support girls,” he said. “This collaboration with Barbie is a large-scale, ambitious effort to explore this important phenomenon and share what we know about childhood development to a mass audience, so we can help close the Dream Gap.”

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