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Brief Published: 15 Nov 2018

Mattel’s Barbie Launches Initiative to Support Young Girls

A recent study found that by the age of six, girls start to limit their self-belief. Toy manufacturer Mattel has announced a global initiative to help close the so-called "Dream Gap", leveraging its Barbie brand to provide young girls with the help and support they need to believe in themselves.

The Barbie Dream Gap Project aims to address the belief deficit that girls experience as a result of the gender stereotypes they're exposed to from birth. Barbie positions itself as "the original girl empowerment brand", with the new initiative aligning with Mattel's recent campaigns promoting inclusive doll design, female representation, and deconstructing parenting stereotypes.

The initiative includes investment in further research to help identify the issues which create the dream gap; Mattel is collaborating with New York University and localised researchers to understand more about girls around the globe. Mattel is also using the popular Barbie YouTube channel, which has more than five million subscribers. In an imitation of the popular vlogging format, the channel is publishing practical advice and real-life story videos to help boost girls' self-confidence.

The manufacturer is also providing young girls with positive role models by committing to adding 10 new Barbies a year modelled on real-world empowering women – such as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and American ballerina Misty Copeland. Barbie's range of 'career dolls' also illustrate a range of options for their future occupations. Stylus previously highlighted the importance of representation in children's toys in a recent post – see The Brief.

Gen Alpha (aged nought to eight) will become an increasingly important consumer group for businesses to engage with. Mattel and Barbie are a great example of how products and platforms can unite to support this demographic as its characteristics emerge. To understand more about Gen Alpha, see our report Raising the Superkids.