When it came to imagining career goals for this generation of girls, Barbie was supposed to be breaking through the plastic ceiling, but a recent sexist Barbie career book “I Can be a Computer Engineer” is a throwback to an earlier time.
Apparently Barbie is in way over her pretty blonde head when it comes to computer science and needs the help of 2 tech savvy boys to navigate the world of computers.
Perhaps Barbie best stick to teaching, nursing, or being a stewardess.
This retro advise that women must rely on men to get a job done is one girls have heard for years.
To those of us who were the first generation of Barbie buddies, the story line it is eerily familiar harking back to a time when options presented to a real girl in the 1960’s were less than thrilling.
What Shall I Be?
By the time I was 11 years old, I had bid my EZ bake oven goodbye and tucked my Tiny Tears doll into her rock-bye crib for the last time. Like most other pre pubescent girls in the mid 1960’s I was ready to target more weighty matters- like what I wanted to be when I grew up.
We were, our Weekly Readers told us, a new generation of girls, fueled first by the New Frontier challenges of JFK, now primed and ready to join LBJ’s Great Society.
To assist us on our journey was a brand new board game called “What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls.” Debuting in 1966 it was made by Selchow & Righter Company makers of the popular game of Parcheesi.
Along with “Miss Popularity” and “Mystery Date”, “What Shall I Be?” formed the holy grail of board games designed to prepare a young girl with the essential skills needed for the exciting game of life of which she apparently hadn’t a clue.
The object of the game was to be the first player to become a Career Girl, achieved by collecting school, subject and personality cards for specific careers. With the roll of the dice the thrilling world of career options awaited me.
But the cards were stacked against the girls of the 1960s.
Mad Men’s Peggy Olsen may have scored a corner office in a big Madison Avenue office , but the options presented to a real life girl in 1966 were less than thrilling.
The 6 exciting career options offered in this game just for girls included nursing school to become a nurse, drama school to become an actress, college to become a teacher, ballet school to become a ballet dancer, airline training school to become an airline stewardess or everyone’s favorite, sashaying off to charm school to become a model.
Charm school would clearly serve you well in securing a job in all the other fields which also seemed to require the oh-so important arts of visual poise, grace and charm, voice and diction, grooming essentials, figure control make up and hair styling and other social skills that would help you attain your goals more quickly and readily.
The games consisted of 30 School Cards, 16 round subject cards and 16 heart-shaped personality cards
The game ended when one lucky player had collected 4 school cards of one profession and 2 subject cards and two personality cards that were good for that profession. After that, the sky’s the limit!
There was a version of what Shall I be for boys the exciting career game for boys. Options for boys included going to law school to become a statesman, graduate school to become a scientist,medical school to become a doctor, college to become an athlete, technical school to become an engineer or flight school to become an astronaut.
The board game merely reflected what we viewed in the media at large. Flipping through Seventeen Magazine were the real life ads for exciting careers.
In a few short years girls would rebel against the cards we were dealt. The woman’s movement would be the wild card in the future.
Copyright (©) 2014 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved