25 Oct 2019

Barbie Pilot and Aviation Engineer Dolls Inspire Women in Aviation

Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology is happy to see that Mattel and Virgin Atlantic along with UK Barbie, have just launched special edition Barbie dolls to empower girls worldwide to consider a future in aerospace and aviation. The dolls bring to light the often-overlooked contributions of women in aviation.

Virgin Atlantic Highlights Women in Aviation

Virgin Atlantic teamed up with UK Barbie to roll out three new Barbie dolls– Barbie Pilot, Cabin Crew Barbie, and Aviation Engineer Barbie– to help girls to view a future in aviation, as pilots and engineers, as something that’s possible. According to Women in Aviation, women comprise only 7% of the total population of pilots in the United States (including students). Additionally, only 6,994 women hold FAA certificates as airline pilots, representing just 4.4% of the total. Only 13% of engineers are women, and only 11% of aerospace engineers are women, the 3rd lowest % by specialty.


Source: FAA’s Aeronautical Center (December 31st, 2017 data)

Role# of pilots# of women% women
pilots (total)609,30642,6947.01
airline transport159,8256,9944.38
rotocraft (only)15,355n/an/a
glider (only)18,139n/an/a
flight instructors106,6927,1046.66
remote pilots69,1663,4625.01

Additionally, according to a heartbreaking study conducted by researchers at New York University, the University of Illinois, and Princeton University, “Starting at age 5, many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs”.That is, believing that “they can or cannot do something because of their gender.” The new dolls are part of the Dream Gap Project, an ongoing initiative to highlight female role models to inspire young girls, who can begin to doubt their full potential as early as age five. The initiative encourages girls to pursue careers in which women are currently underrepresented.


Barbie is the Perfect Messenger at a Critical Time for Young Girls

According to a 2018 NSF-funded study published by the Society of Women Engineers, “Media exposure to engineering can have a positive impact on tween girls’ interest in engineering when they combat negative stereotypes and offer examples of female engineers with diverse interests and from diverse backgrounds. When adolescents lack direct contact with real-life STEM professionals, media images serve an important role in shaping career perceptions. Early media exposure can help tween girls become more familiar with what an engineer does and help them see themselves in such roles in the future.”


The study also concluded, “If we want to improve gender diversity in engineering then we need to reach girls before they enter high school to encourage their interest in STEM fields.”


Sally Ride Barbie Unveiled

As part of its Barbie Inspiring Women Series, Mattel recently unveiled its Sally Ride doll, designed after the late astronaut who made history as the youngest American, and first American woman, to fly in space. She embarked on two missions aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984. Mattel’s Inspiring Women Series took off in 2018, and includes dolls modeled after pilot Amelia Earhart and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson. Inspired by iconic female pilots in history, Barbie’s creators have been introducing aerospace-themed dolls and costumes since 1965, two years after Soviet astronaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in the world to fly into space.

Programs And Opportunities In Aviation Maintenance and Avionics

Spartan’s s Aviation Maintenance Technology program offers FAA-approved aviation maintenance and airframe and powerplant (A&P) programs. So what does aviation maintenance entail, and how does it help to propel the aviation industry? Aviation maintenance is the skill of repairing, inspecting, modifying or overhauling an aircraft or aircraft component. This keeps aircraft in optimal form for safe flight.


Avionics is a portmanteau of aviation and electronics. Spartan’s Aviation Electronics technology program involves working with equipment like radios, navigation equipment, autopilot, cables, entertainment systems, and more. The study of avionics involves learning about both the conceptual underpinnings of electricity and the practical applications for the field of aviation.

Aviation Scholarships Provide Opportunities for Women

Another way to level the playing field is to increase educational opportunities for women. Several scholarships are available for women interested in aviation-related careers:

Other scholarship opportunities include:

Spartan scholarships may be available to those who qualify.

How We Can Help Your Career Take Off

At Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, we’re proud of the women who are training to become pilots, aviation technology managers, aviation maintenance professionals, avionics technicians, and more. We celebrate diversity, supporting students of all races, genders, and backgrounds. Ready to get your training off the ground? Contact us to learn more or apply today.