Girls can be anything

I’m not a girly girl, but I’m obsessed with Barbie and love everything they stand for. Three years ago, together with Ivett Kovács and Júlia Borsi, we held a presentation at the Budapest Startup Safary all about this iconic doll. Ivett made a visualization about the most valuable Barbies and the Twitter activity of the account, Julcsi studied the dolls released over time in Power BI, and I made a Barbie network in Gephi. We have all this covered in a blog post on dataviz.love, have a look!

This time I had a look at all the careers she had over the past 60 years. Did you know she had more than 200 jobs? You can see for yourself in the interactive version on Tableau Public, but keep on reading if you’re interested in the why and how. If you want to create a viz about the topic, I uploaded both my Barbie careers and Barbie network datasets to data.world.

How it’s going

I collected the data for my visualization mainly from Wikipedia, but I had to fire up the Google engines to fill the holes. I love how the positioning of Barbie has changed over time from traditional jobs like a fashion model, stewardess, or secretary to basically anything. In 1965 the astronaut Barbie came out, four years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. You can see that before the ’90s, there were some occasions where she put her modeling career aside, but that was quite rare. Since then, it’s hard to find more inspirational toys for little girls than Barbie, as they live up to their slogan that “girls can be anything”

In 1992 she decided to run for US president before any other woman had been on the ballot. And the range of jobs she had is just wow. In 2013 she became a Chancellor in honor of Germany’s first female leader, Angela Merkel. Three years later, she burst onto the scene of science as a Game Developer and a Rocket Engineer. In 2018 Barbie got an environmental flagship job as a Beekeeper and joined the Olympic team in 2020. How cool is that!?

Final visualization on Tableau Public

I tried to make this design work with my eternal font love, Futura, but it didn’t seem to work here. So I temporarily had to put it aside and used SignPainger for the titles and Arial Narrow for the text. The other unusual thing here is the use of pastel colors that I’m not that much of a fan of, but I seem to enjoy the looks since my Fire walk with me visualization. However, I’m sure it’s a passing thing.

Tooltips

How it started

I really hope that the Data Visualization Designer Barbie is already on its way because let me tell you, that’s a perfect career path for any little girl. Look at the BI Barbie in the ’90s living her highest life:

Also, this is my favorite ad of all times, and three years ago this gave me the idea to visualize Barbies at the 2018 Budapest Startup Safary:

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