credit: Virgin Atlantic / Barbie

Virgin Atlantic teams up with Barbie to encourage STEM and aviation careers for girls

Virgin Atlantic has joined forces with Barbie UK to inspire younger girls to follow careers in STEM and aviation.

Over the years, Barbie has had over 200 careers and in her 60th year she will be adding three new roles to her roster – a pilot, engineer, and cabin crew – as she continues to inspire girls to believe that anything is possible.

The dolls have been designed to reflect the likeness of real Virgin Atlantic uniforms whilst also showing ethnic and body diversity. The pilot doll wears a uniform complete with wings and a badge, and also has articulated ankles and flat shoes. The engineer doll boasts flat safety boots, an access lanyard and noise cancelling headphones, whilst the cabin crew doll pays homage to the iconic red Virgin Atlantic Vivienne Westwood uniform.

credit: Virgin Atlantic / Barbie

As it stands, the dolls are one-of-a-kind however, later in the year it is expected that the pilot and crew dolls will be sold on board Virgin Atlantic flights and will also be available in key retail partners.

Virgin Atlantic and Barbie’s collaboration marks the start of a wider initiative to encourage more women in STEM and aviation careers. According to current statistics from the Women’s Engineering Society, only 12% of the UK engineering workforce is female. Furthermore, only 4.3% of UK pilots are women, with the aviation sector in particular dominated by men.

Alongside Virgin Atlantic’s charity partner, WE, the Passport for Change programme aims to inspire young people to engage with STEM subjects and consider a future in aviation. In order to do this, there will be an annual Future Flyer open day in their HQ and school visits and trips to their engineering hangars. Barbie will also be used an an educational tool, with on-board Barbie content in addition to a #SeeHerFly social media campaign.

credit: Virgin Atlantic / Barbie

Barbie itself also has its own campaign called the Dream Gap Project, which was launched after research concluded that girls begin to doubt their potential from as young as five years old. The campaign aims to level the playing field for girls globally.

Speaking about the campaign, Phil Maher, EVP Operations for Virgin Atlantic, stated: “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.”

President of the Women’s Engineering Society, Dawn Childs, added: “The fact so many young girls narrow their career prospects from an early age by believing that some roles and jobs simply are not for them is a tragedy. It’s not just a tragedy for them, but it denies businesses 50% of the potential future talent pool at a time when the engineering skills gap is widening and unsustainable. This fabulous initiative will help to normalise seeing women in these vital roles, and help them aim high in their future career aspirations.”

credit: Virgin Atlantic / Barbie

For information on aviation careers with Virgin Atlantic, click here.

Written by Katrina

twenty-something charity shop manager and aspiring journalist with a penchant for boybands. Email: katrinanaomirees@gmail.com

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