Barbie had her first job as a teen fashion model in 1959. Assuming she was around 15 years old when she landed that job, she's now well past retirement age.

You'd think she'd have found a career she could stick at by now. But no, she's about to plunge in again with another new job (her 126th) – Computer Engineer.

Before you ask, no I'm not joking. She's set to take up her new job in winter 2010, after her adoring public were asked to vote on her next incarnation.

She must be the most diversely-qualified technician in the office, having been (amongst others) an astronaut, a vet, a doctor, a teacher, a McDonald's cashier, an Olympian, and even President of the United States. But does she have the necessary skills to make it in IT?

Well, she's got the wardrobe and accessories if nothing else. Computer Engineer Barbie comes equipped with a Bluetooth headset, the latest smartphone, and a little pink laptop, and is ditching her trademark painfully high heels for a pair of comfortable pink wedges. She even wears a binary-patterned t-shirt under the chic white waistcoat.

And let's not forget the defining characteristic of geekdom: glasses (pink again, of course).

I think this doll is supposed to be redefining little girls' view of IT workers, and I suppose there's a certain amount of sense here. There are women working in IT, and being an IT professional doesn't mean that you have to eschew make-up and nice clothes. But really, I can't remember ever taking the inspiration for 'what I want to be when I grow up' from the outfit my doll was wearing that day.

Is Barbie really the sort of person we want representing us? A woman whose very name has become synonymous with impossible physical perfection and empty-headedness? According to research by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, her real-life proportions would be a height of 5'9", and measurements of 36-18-33. According to this same research, she would lack the necessary 17 to 22 per cent body fat required to menstruate.

What a turnaround this latest career move is from the 1992 controversy over Teen Talk Barbie ("Math class is tough!").
BCS quite often posts articles and debates about whether it's better to be a specialist or an all-rounder, whether there's a skills shortage in IT, whether older practitioners struggle to get the jobs – well, Barbie is in her sixties and has never held down a steady job. If she can do it, so can you!

About the author

Azaria Frost came to BCS in mid-2009, joining the Institute as a web editor right in the middle of the exciting transformation period. She originally trained in English and creative writing at university, and is a self-confessed gadgetophile and grammar guru.