September 8, 2019
We've teamed up with Barbie UK to inspire younger girls to follow careers in STEM and aviation
Current statistics from the Women’s Engineering Society indicate that only 12% of the UK engineering workforce is female and similar statistics show that only 4.3% of UK pilots are women, with the aviation sector in particular dominated by men.
Originally created to show girls that women have choices, Barbie has had over 200 careers throughout her history, and in the brand’s 60th year three Virgin Atlantic careers join the ranks to inspire girls to believe anything is possible.
Research has identified that many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs at age five, and doubt their full potential – this is called the Dream Gap. To champion change, Barbie launched the Dream Gap Project, an on-going initiative with the goal of levelling the playing field for girls globally. Our partnership aims to highlight role models to show girls they can be anything and help close the Dream Gap.
Our partnership with Barbie marks the start of a wider initiative to encourage more women into STEM and aviation careers. Alongside our charity partner, WE, the Passport for Change programme aims to inspire young people to engage with STEM subjects and consider a future in aviation. With Barbie, our dual mission to inspire girls through more careers includes our annual Future Flyer open day at our HQ, as well as leveraging female engineers and pilots to show girls real role models, through school visits and trips to our engineering hangars. We’ll also be shining a spotlight on STEM careers using Barbie as an educational tool, inspiring on-board Barbie content, and a social campaign; #SeeHerFly.
The dolls have been designed in the likeness of real Virgin Atlantic uniforms and show ethnic and body diversity, reflecting the body types available in the Barbie line. The pilot doll has articulated ankles and flat shoes and wears a pilot’s uniform complete with wings and badge. The engineer doll wears flat safety boots, an access lanyard and noise cancelling headphones, while the cabin crew doll pays homage to the iconic red Virgin Atlantic Vivienne Westwood uniform.
According to Phil Maher, our EVP Operations, it’s imperative we play the long game, highlighting to primary aged children that any job role is open. ” It’s essential that Virgin Atlantic plays a pivotal role in encouraging women to succeed in STEM careers. It’s evident that for those women who do become pilots and engineers, career satisfaction is exceptionally high, and it’s no surprise that job satisfaction is exceptionally high. It’s essential we showcase to girls of all ages just how fulfilling a career in our industry can be and our partnership with Barbie is just one of the steps we’re undertaking to achieve this” he said, noting that our partnership with Barbie allows us to speak directly to our future generation of aviation workers, whether they aspire to be pilots, cabin crew or engineers. President of the Women’s Engineering Society, Dawn Childs, agrees. “The fact so many young girls narrow their career prospects from an early age by believing that some roles and jobs simply are not for them is a tragedy,” she said. “It’s not just a tragedy for them, but it denies businesses 50% of the potential future talent pool at a time when the engineering skills gap is widening and unsustainable. This fabulous initiative will help to normalise seeing women in these vital roles, and help them aim high in their future career aspirations.”
Virgin Atlantic were a founding member of Women in Aviation and Aerospace in 2018 as well as a signatory of the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure charter. We’ve also developed a Springboard Network which aims to help women in junior roles develop clear career pathways to become senior leaders.
While these Virgin Atlantic dolls are one-of-a-kind, young fans can imagine themselves in-flight with the Barbie Pilot doll as well as play out different roles in other fields with other Barbie career dolls available. Later in the year, Pilot and Crew dolls will be sold on-board and in key retail partners to further celebrate the partnership.
For anybody looking to take the next step in their aviation career, Virgin Atlantic offers both cabin crew and engineering apprenticeships as well as a pilot cadet scheme. More information can be found at www.virginatlantic.com/careers
For more details, visit Barbie’s dream gap project to inspire the next generation.