Team Pick: Feminist Hacker Barbie

Earlier this week, Pamela Ribon came across a very interesting book: Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer. Pretty sweet, right? What could be better than a fun, accessible children’s book encouraging girls to go into STEM? Nothing — except this book wasn’t really about that.

Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer.

Don’t judge this book by its cover. Via Gizmodo.

In actuality, the book was full of the kinds of sexist drivel that drive girls and women away from STEM. Although Mattel has since pulled the book from sale online, you can read most of it on Ribon’s blog (it’s short!). Alternatively, Casey Fiesler, a PhD candidate in computing, gives the following summary:

As far as I can tell, the steps for becoming a computer engineer if you’re Barbie are:

  1. Design a videogame.
  2. Get a boy to code it for you.
  3. Accidentally infect your computer with a virus.
  4. Get a boy to fix it for you.
  5. Take all the credit for these things yourself.

And the problem isn’t even that Barbie isn’t a “real” computer scientist because she isn’t coding. (I am one of those mostly-non-coding computer scientists myself, though now I’m tempted to make a game about robot puppies shooting lasers anyway.) The problem is the assumption that she is a designer, not a coder, and the coders are boys.

To remedy the situation, Fiesler remixed the entire book, creating gems like this:

Fiesler made the images herself, and they’re so good. I read them and I wanted a million more — and happily, they’re in production!

After Ribon’s article about the book went viral on Gizmodo, the best thing on the internet emerged: Feminist Hacker Barbie. Created by real life computer engineer Kathleen Tuite, Feminist Hacker Barbie is a meme generator allowing users to rewrite pages of Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer.

Results have been spectacular.

For example, Feminist Hacker Barbie optimizes algorithms like you wouldn’t believe.


Feminist Hacker Barbie considers herself a Grey Hat; if you don’t mess with her, she (probably) won’t mess with you.


Feminist Hacker Barbie doesn’t need your help implementing the front end design, k thx bye.


An on and on, all over Twitter, Tumblr and the general feminist interwebs.

Look, I made one too:

"Oh no!" cries Skipper. "The firewall blocked access to Autostraddle!" "No sweat," says Barbie. "Let me show you how to browse by proxy. If that doesn't work, we can try remote access or setting your phone up as a hot spot. It might not work, but we can at least try." "You're the best," says Skipper.

Make your own at Feminist Hacker Barbie!


How To Post A Photo In The Comments:

1. Find a photo! This is the easy part. Find a photo on the web, right click (on a Mac, control+click), hit “Copy Image URL” and then…

2. Code it in to your comment! Use the following code, and use a DIRECT LINK to the image. Your image link should end in .JPG or .GIF or .PNG or .CallMeWhateverYouWant even. I don’t care, but it should be an image suffix!

<img src=”http://imagelink.jpg”>

If you need to upload the photo you love from your computer, try using imgur. To learn more, check out Ali’s step-by-step guide.

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Profile gravatar of Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 208 articles for us.


  1. I cannot even begin to express my feelings toward the “I’m doing HTML with my left hand/CSS with my right” one. I love it more than I thought was physically possible to love an image. Because it is EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE. I have never seen a more accurate portrayal of myself, I want to print it out and frame it and also use it as my profile pic on every social media account.

    Also flashing back to when my boss and one of the contractors he had brought in flipped out because they thought the little woman had broken the DNS servers and it took me like 3 hours to explain to them that I had actually *fixed* a problem they caused and then how much crow they ate when they realized I was right.

    I mean, who ever heard of a girl who understands technical stuff, amirite?

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