Prepare the Next Generation

Through the Barbie Dream Gap Project and the Ruth Handler Mentorship Program, we are creating a pathway for girls and young professionals. 

Dream Gap Project

Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests. Research shows that, starting at age five, many girls begin to develop limiting self- beliefs. Representation in the media, cultural stereotypes, and unconscious biases that suggest women are ‘not as smart as men’ deepen this issue.
The dream gap describes a phenomenon where young girls, due to social constructions that portray women as less capable and valuable than men, are at risk of not living up to their full potential, negatively affecting and inhibiting their futures and careers.
As the original girl empowerment brand, Barbie launched the Barbie Dream Gap Project in 2018 to level the playing field for girls globally by giving them the resources, inspiration, and support they need to believe that they can do or be anything.
In 2019, Barbie helped raise funds through a campaign hosted by GoFundMe to support nonprofit partners with a mission to fuel girls’ equality through education and mentorship opportunities.
In 2020, Barbie directed its annual donation to NAACP Youth Programs to directly make a difference in Black communities and fund additional research to identify actionable solutions to close the dream gap for Black, Indigenous, and people of color girls.
In collaboration with New York University (NYU), Barbie funded a two-year fellowship awarded to a NYU postdoctoral fellow who is researching what the dream gap means for girls and how we can work to close it. Preliminary findings are expected later in 2021.
Barbie has also collaborated with the Center for Scholars and Storytellers at UCLA to develop a curriculum that addresses issues perpetuating the dream gap. This was initially tested in an elementary school and implemented in the Los Angeles area, but, more recently, is being developed into a digital curriculum to be deployed at various test sites at schools or after-school programs across the United States.

The Ruth Handler Mentorship Program

In 2020, Mattel announced the creation of the Ruth Handler Mentorship Program in partnership with Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT). The mentorship program, the toy industry’s first for women, was launched at the 2020 Wonder Women Awards ceremony, an annual celebration of the industry’s female leaders.
The program is designed to advance career growth across the toy industry through personalized one-to-one mentor/ mentee partnerships that match seasoned and influential leaders with women who are focused on honing their leadership skills, building their network, and advancing their careers. It also includes coaching, professional development, and learning. 
Underwritten by the Mattel Children’s Foundation and named after Ruth Handler, Mattel’s cofounder and creator of the Barbie brand, the program is designed to be company-agnostic.development, and learning. Underwritten by the Mattel Children’s Foundation and named after Ruth Handler, Mattel’s cofounder and creator of the Barbie brand, the program is designed to be company-agnostic.