When people think of Barbie, they might imagine her standing at attention immaculately dressed – and not floating in a weightless flight.
But the brand has teamed up with the European Space Agency (ESA) and its only active female astronaut to inspire young girls to consider science, technology, engineering and math (Stem) as a viable career option.
The collaboration sees Samantha Cristoforetti’s doll sent on a Zero-G flight and space education resources made available to parents and teachers.
A portion of the Barbie sales will be donated to Women In Aerospace to inspire the next generation by creating a Barbie scholarship for a doctoral student.
The doll was previously a one-of-a-kind Barbie, but is now available across Europe.
To mark World Space Week, which begins on Monday, the doll left ESA’s base in Germany and flew in zero gravity, modeling the readiness and experience of an actual astronaut.
Samantha Cristoforetti, 44, from Italy, is an aviator, engineer, astronaut and is currently in training before 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 a mission with her to continue to inspire the girls.
Ms Cristoforetti said: “Sometimes small things can plant the seeds of big dreams, who knows?
“Perhaps the fun images of my doll floating in weightlessness will spark children’s imaginations and lead them to consider a career in Stem.”
Research suggests that women are still under-represented in Stem careers and even at a young age, girls say they have the least confidence in their math skills in school.
For more details on how to apply for the Women in Aerospace Europe Outreach Award: The ESA x Barbie Bursary, visit: www.wia-europe.org