Barbie has teamed up with Virgin Atlantic for a campaign encouraging girls to explore careers in aviation and STEM industries, where women account for just a fraction of the UK’s specialist workforce.
Three one-of-a-kind dolls have been created to celebrate the partnership: a pilot, an engineer and a member of the cabin crew.
Current statistics from the Women’s Engineering Society indicate that only 12 per cent of the UK engineering workforce is female and similar statistics show that less the five per cent of UK pilots are women, with the aviation sector in particular dominated by men.
Nikki Humphrey, SVP People at Virgin Atlantic, says: “We know that women are currently underrepresented across a number of careers within aviation. We also know we can’t change this position overnight. Therefore, it’s imperative we play the long game, highlighting to primary aged children that any job role is open and our partnership with Barbie marks another milestone in our commitment to this.
“It’s astounding that girls start believing they can’t follow a certain career path from as young as five and it’s our ambition to help close the dream gap,” Nikki adds. “By working with Barbie, it allows us to speak directly to our future generation of aviation professionals, whether they aspire to be cabin crew, engineers or pilots.”
The partnership between Virgin Atlantic and Barbie marks the start of a wider initiative at the airline to encourage more women to pursue STEM and aviation careers. Working with its charity partner WE the Passport for Change programme aims to inspire young people to engage with STEM subjects and consider a future in aviation.
Virgin Atlantic and Barbie’s dual mission to inspire girls through more careers include its annual Future Flyer open day at the airline’s HQ, where female engineers and pilots are shown as real role models, through school visits and trips to the airline’s engineering hangars, that spotlight STEM careers using Barbie as an educational tool, inspiring on-board Barbie content, and a social campaign using #SeeHerFly.
Phil Maher, EVP Operations at Virgin Atlantic, says: “It’s essential that Virgin Atlantic plays a pivotal role in encouraging women to succeed in STEM careers. It’s evident that for those women who do become pilots and engineers, career satisfaction is exceptionally high, and it’s no surprise that job satisfaction is exceptionally high. It’s essential we showcase to girls of all ages just how fulfilling a career in our industry can be and our partnership with Barbie is just one of the steps we’re undertaking to achieve this.”