The South Asian Times

06 December 2019 10:01 AM

Mattel makes Barbie based on Indo-American scientist Nalini Nadkarni


New York: Think Barbies and the images of blonde svelte plastic figurine with blue eyes flashes on your mind screen. However, that is not the case anymore. Mattel, the famous doll-making company in its bid to become more inclusive has been introducing dolls representing different ethnicity and work cultures.

And the latest to hit the market is the figurine inspired by Indian American scientist Nalini Nadkarni.

Nadkarni is an Indo-American ecologist and a scientist at the University of Utah. She is a pioneer in rain forest ecology and dedicates a lot of time researching about trees canopies.

Mattel, in collaboration with Nadkarni and National Geographic, has come up with a new range of Barbies that represent women of color in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions.

These Barbies come with complete gear, the helmet, the binoculars, the jacket and don't miss out on the boots.

However, there is a very interesting story behind this.

In the early 2000s, Nadkarni realized that there were not many women who were interested in canopy studies. She also knew that Barbies had a lot of influence over kids, so, in order to encourage young girls to study ecology and canopy research she started making her own dolls who were ecologists.

She used to buy second-hand dolls, get their clothes made by a tailor which were job appropriate and included a jacket and boots. She used to call them TreeTop Barbies and her motive behind this was to attract more women towards the STEM jobs. She took them to conferences and events that she went to and even sold quite a few.

After some time, Nadkarni took the idea to Mattel to convert it into a legitimate thing. But, at that time Mattel was not interested in the concept.

After the dolls became a hit and TreeTop Barbies made headlines, Mattel approached Nadkarni trying to convince her to stop making the dolls but this time, she was the one who refused.

But now, things have changed and Mattel along with Nadkarni are making Barbies that represent women in various professions. Taking inspiration of an Indian origin scientist for their dolls is a first for Mattel.

Update: 02 Dec, 2019