It’s a sad statistic, but research from studies conducted at New York University, the University of Illinois and Princeton University has identified that girls as young as age five start to lose confidence in themselves, and even more disheartening than the research is that I’ve seen elements of that here at home. Despite the opportunities that my wife and I are tirelessly working to provide for our girls, the questions of self-confidence and self-worth have begun, and we see it often, particularly in our nine-year-old. There’s many factors at play, and today a familiar name is taking a big step toward addressing them as Barbie announces the Dream Gap Project: a multi-year global initiative to raise awareness around limiting factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential.
What is the “Dream Gap?”
Beginning at age five, many girls are less likely than boys to view their own gender as smart and begin to lose confidence in their own competence. Cultural stereotypes, implicit biases and representation in media work together to further this issue. In the United States, this has been referenced as the “Dream Gap,” but there are similar trends seen around the world.
Girls’ belief in themselves is impacted by these limiting factors, so Barbie is dedicated to funding research, highlighting positive role models and rallying a community around supporting girls through The Dream Gap Project.
What Barbie aims to do about it:
The notion of a Dream Gap is still a relatively new concept and is under-researched, especially in girls 5-7 years old. To help, the brand is collaborating with Associate Professor Andrei Cimpian of New York University to fund a two-year post-doctoral fellowship on this issue. Globally, Barbie will work with local researchers to extend these studies and find out more about girls around the world.
“Our research is just the beginning — we need to dedicate more resources to this important topic so that we can better understand how to support girls,” said Andrei Cimpian, Associate Professor at New York University. “This collaboration with Barbie is a large-scale, ambitious effort to explore this important phenomenon and share what we know about childhood development to a mass audience, so we can help close the Dream Gap.”
“Since 1959, Barbie has inspired the limitless potential in every girl and we believe that empowering them at a young age is a catalyst to unlocking their full potential,” said Lisa McKnight, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Barbie. “The goal of The Dream Gap Project is to leverage Barbie’s global platforms to educate society on gender biases and inspire any supporter of girls to join us as we can’t do this alone.”
The brand is dedicated to helping close the Dream Gap and will be focused on:
- Raising awareness through impactful content developed to provide adults with resources on how they can support the girls in their lives available on Barbie.com.
- Showing girls more role models by highlighting at least 10 empowering female role models each year globally. Because telling a girl she can be anything is just the beginning, actually seeing that she can do anything makes all the difference.
- Leveraging Barbie as a role model and connecting with girls through inspiring content that is centered on teachable moments. By continuing to infuse purpose-driven themes in content, such as Barbie Vlogger, we are addressing issues that girls face in an unique and approachable way.
- Continuing to offer empowering products that allow girls to play out their dreams, while showing them they have choices. From the Inspiring Women series to highlighting underrepresented careers, Barbie is encouraging imagination, expression and discovery.
- Rallying partners around the world with any like-minded companies who are dedicated to girls’ empowerment.
To learn more: Visit barbie.com/DreamGap and join the social conversation with #CloseTheDreamGap.