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FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF ST. LOUIS

ECONOMIC EDUCATION

Barbie® in the Labor Force
PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Lesson Author
Barbara Flowers, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Standards and Benchmarks (see page 24)
Lesson Description
Since 1920, women have more than doubled their share of the labor force. More women
are working, but has the type of work they do advanced similarly? What were the top
occupations for women 20, 60, and 100 years ago, and how do those occupations
compare with women’s choices today? In this lesson, students use primary documents
to review historical trends in women’s share of the labor force and chosen occupations.
Using Barbie careers as a time line, they speculate as to why Barbie represented certain careers for girls at different points in time since 1959. They choose which career
Barbie might represent next year and explain that choice in a one-page essay.

Concepts
Labor force
Labor trends

Objectives
Students will
•

define labor force,

•

identify trends in labor force participation, and

•

examine women’s occupations historically.

Time Required
90 minutes

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

Materials
•

Barbie in the Labor Force (PowerPoint, SMART, ActivInspire) Slides 1 through 10

•

Prepare the following based on the option you choose:
•

•

Small-Group Option
•

Handout 3, cut into Barbie cards, one set for each group of 4 to 5
students

•

Handout 4, one copy for each group of 4 to 5 students

All-Class Option
•

Barbie in the Labor Force (PowerPoint, SMART, ActivInspire) Slides
11-20 or 21-23, depending on the size you wish to use, cut into cards

•

Handouts 1, 2, and 5, one copy for each student

•

An extra sheet of paper and a ruler for each student

•

Glue or tape to place Barbie cards on the time line

Procedure
1.

2.

Explain that women’s participation in the labor force has changed over time, both in
the number of women workers and in the type of work women do. Show Slide 1 and
tell students they are looking at a 1925 bulletin from the U.S. Bureau of the Census
that provides the percentages of persons 10 years of age and over engaged in gainful
occupations. Ask the following questions:
•

What percentage of women were working in 1880? (14.7)

•

What percentage of women were working in 1890? (17.4)

•

1900? (18.3)

•

1910? (23.4)

•

1920? (21.1)

•

What was the trend in women’s employment? (Women’s employment increased
each decade until 1920.)

•

What was the trend in men’s employment? (Men’s employment increased each
decade until 1920.)

•

What might explain the drop in employment of both men and women in 1920?
(Possible answers: There was a recession in 1920 that extended into 1921. World
War I had ended and the economy was transitioning from wartime to peacetime.)

Distribute Handout 1: 1925 Publication Excerpt or provide one student a copy to read
aloud. Ask students to explain the author’s reasoning for the drop in employment from
1910 to 1920. Revisit the first paragraph of the second page if necessary. (The author
reasons that because the Census in 1910 included the months through April 15, while

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

the Census in 1920 was taken on the first day of 1920, some employment in agriculture that came later in the spring would not have been reported in the 1920 statistic.)
3.

Explain that students are going to look at statistics and labor trends to study
women’s participation in the labor force and their career choices.

4.

Show Slide 2. Instruct students to read the graph heading, and ask a student to describe
what is shown on the graph. (The graph shows the percentage (or share) of the labor
force held by women and the percentage (or share) of the labor force held by men by
decade.) Define the labor force as the total number of workers, including both the
employed and the unemployed. Explain that the unemployed are people without jobs
who are actively seeking work. So, the labor force consists of people who are working
and those who are not working but seeking work.

5.

•

What happened to men’s share of the labor force from 1920 through 1960?
(It declined from 80 percent to 68 percent.)

•

What happened to women’s share of the labor force from 1920 through 1960?
(It increased from 20 percent to 32 percent.)

•

For 1970, men’s share of the labor force was projected to decline to 66 percent
and women’s share of the labor force was projected to increase to 34 percent. Do
you think these projections proved to be accurate? (Answers will vary, but it is reasonable to expect the trends established over the previous decades to continue.)

Choose a student to read aloud the paragraphs under the graph on Slide 2. Ask the
following questions:
•

Do you think that women represented 1 in 3 workers in the labor force by 1970?
(Answers will vary.)

•

What do you think women’s share of the labor force is today? (Answers will
vary.)

•

The decline in men’s share of the labor force is explained by early retirement of
older men and a trend toward higher educational attainment of younger men.
How would the pursuit of higher education explain a reduction in men’s labor
force participation? (If men spend more years in school, they have fewer years in
the labor force.)

6.

Show Slide 3. Remind students that in 1960, women’s share of the labor force was
expected to grow to 34 percent by 1970. Ask a student to determine from the graph
women’s approximate share of the labor force in 1970. (Approximately 38 percent)

7.

Show Slide 4 and explain that these are the data represented on Slide 3. Direct students
to the title of this dataset: “Women’s Share of the Labor Force in the United States.”
Point out that these are annual data, with an observation date of January 1 from 1970
through 2000. These data are given in percentages and are not seasonally adjusted.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

Seasonally adjusted data would be adjusted mathematically to remove the dips and
bumps in employment that occur due to seasonal hiring, such as extra retail workers
hired for the holidays.
8.

Distribute Handout 2: Labor Force Participation, a blank piece of paper, and a ruler to
each student. Instruct students to use the paper to draw the graph on the handout,
adding the men’s and women’s labor force shares for 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000
provided on Slide 4. Instruct them to include projected shares for 2010.

9.

When students have completed their graphs, review the data:
Year

Women

Men

1970
1980
1990
2000

38.1
42.5
45.2
46.5

61.9
57.5
54.8
53.5

10. Ask students to share their projections for 2010 and record these on the board. Show
Slide 5, which reveals women’s share of the labor force through 2011. Determine which
student’s projections were closest. Discuss the differences in the student’s expectations
as follows:
•

What was the change in women’s share of the labor force between 1970 and
1980? (4.4 percent)

•

What was the change in women’s share of the labor force between 1980 and
1990? (2.7 percent)

•

What was the change in women’s share of the labor force between 1990 and
2000? (1.3 percent)

•

How would you describe women’s share of the labor force between 1970 and
2000? (Women’s share is increasing but at a decreasing rate.)

•

Based on the data, what is a reasonable projection of women’s share of the labor
force between 2000 and 2010? (Answers will vary, but students might say it is
reasonable to project that women’s share of the labor force would have increased
at a decreasing rate, or that it would gain less than 1.3 percent.)

•

What was the difference in women’s share of the labor force between 2000 and
2010? (0.2 percent)

•

What was the difference in women’s share of the labor force between 2010 and
2011? (0.1 percent)
If you are presenting this lesson over a two-day period, stop here.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

11. Explain that just as women’s share of the labor force has changed, so has the type of
work women do.
12. Show Slide 6. Ask students to take a moment to study the slide and then call on a student to explain what the slide reveals. (The chart reveals the 10 largest occupations of
women from 1900 through 1950.) Ask the following questions:
•

What were the largest occupations held by women in 1900? (General household
workers; teachers; saleswomen; housekeepers; laundresses; farmworkers [paid
and unpaid]; dressmakers; and operatives in textile mills)

•

How did the list change in 1910? (Wage-earning farmers fell from the list and
the stenographers, typists, secretaries category was added.)

•

What changed between 1910 and 1920? (General clerical workers and bookkeepers were added; farmers and operatives in textile mills were removed from
the top 10 list.)

•

What was added in 1930 and what did the addition replace? (Operatives in
apparel factories replaced dressmakers.)

•

What was added in 1940 and what was replaced? (Nurses and waitresses
replaced laundresses and unpaid farmworkers.)

•

What was added in 1950? (Telephone operators)

•

What was removed in 1950? (Housekeepers)

13. Show Slide 7 and ask the following questions:
•

What occupations remain in the top 10 for women in 2010? (Secretaries and
administrative assistants [formerly labeled “stenographers, typists, secretaries”],
registered nurses [formerly labeled “nurses (professional)”], elementary and middle school teachers [formerly labeled “teachers”], retail salespersons [formerly labeled “saleswomen”], and waiters and waitresses [formerly labeled “waitresses”])

•

Office clerks (formerly labeled “general clerical workers”) and bookkeeping are
still in the top 20 occupations. Why are telephone operators no longer on the list?
(That occupation is obsolete.)

14. Proceed with one of the following options:
Small-Group Option: Place students in groups of 4 or 5 and distribute a deck of
Barbie cards from Handout 3: Barbie Cards, Handout 4: Barbie Careers Time Line.
Instruct students to display all of the Barbie cards. Tell them their task is going to be to
place the cards on the time line in the correct order the Barbies were introduced.
All-Class Option: Draw a time line on the board, indicating every 5 years from 1955
through 2010. Show students the Barbie cards from the Barbie in the Labor Force
slides (as described in the Materials section). Tell them you will work together as a
class to determine the correct order the Barbies were introduced.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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15. Ask the following question:
•

What clues might you use to determine the date each Barbie was introduced?
(Answers will vary but may include popularity of careers over time, women’s
entrance into certain careers over time, or different hair and clothing styles.)

16. Instruct the groups to use the clues to determine when in history each Barbie was
developed and place each Barbie card on the date on the time line when they think
the Barbie was introduced and draw a line from the card to the guessed date. Alternatively, complete the time line as a class, holding up each card and asking students
where it should be placed. Note that in a few cases, two or more Barbie careers were
introduced in the same year, and that the cards provide a sampling and not all of the
Barbie careers introduced. Allow time for students to complete the activity.
17. After the activity, ask the following questions and as necessary have students rearrange
the Barbie cards at the appropriate dates on the time line(s). Some questions may
require an Internet search for answers.
•

Which Barbie career was introduced first? (Fashion model)

•

In what year was fashion model Barbie introduced? (1959)

•

Which Barbie career came next and in what year? (The fashion editor was
introduced in 1960.)

•

Four Barbie careers were introduced in 1961. Which two were they? (Nurse,
singer, stewardess, and ballerina)

•

What clues did you use to place the stewardess at this early point on the time
line? (Answers will vary but may include that the term “stewardess” was replaced
by the term “flight attendant” later in history or that the clothing reflects 1960
styles.)

•

Would an airline pilot Barbie likely have been released in the 1960s? Why or why
not? (No. There were no female commercial airline pilots in the 1960s.) Explain
that Emily Warner, flying for Frontier Airlines, and Bonnie Tiburzi, flying for
American Airlines, were the first female commercial airline pilots, both hired in
1973.1

•

Which other Barbie careers belong in the 1960s and where should they be
placed on the time line? (Career girl Barbie [1963], student teacher Barbie
[1965], and astronaut Barbie [gray suit; 1965])

•

Do you find any of the Barbie careers surprising for the 1960s? (Students may say
that astronaut Barbie seems out of place.) Explain that Sally Ride became the first
American woman in space on June 18, 1983.2 However, Valentina Tereshkova, a
Russian cosmonaut, rode into space in 1963.

18. Read the following excerpt from a review by Yana V. Rodgers of the book Almost
Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream.3
© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
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In the early 1960s, a group of women dubbed the “Mercury 13” successfully completed a grueling set of psychological and physical tests in a private
program designed to explore if women were as qualified as men to become astronauts. Led by Jerrie Cobb, the first woman to pass all the tests,
their performance in these tests equaled or surpassed that of the male astronauts hired by NASA and clearly demonstrated that women were physically capable of working in this capacity. The bigger challenge proved to
be the struggle to change prevailing attitudes and convince the United
States government that women had the right to become astronauts.
Despite an extremely well-organized and persistent lobbying campaign,
their proven qualifications, and high-level connections (the group of 13
included the wife of a senator), Ms. Cobb and her colleagues failed to gain
admission into NASA’s official astronaut training program. Their political
efforts could not overcome intense opposition stemming from the condescending coverage in the media, stonewalling from Vice President Lyndon B.
Johnson (he famously scribbled “Let’s stop this now!” on a memo about
women in NASA), and damaging testimony from a renowned but resentful female pilot at a key Congressional hearing. It took almost two more
decades before women gained admission into NASA’s training program.
19. Ask the following questions:
•

Why would Mattel have produced an astronaut Barbie if there would be no
American female astronauts for another 18 years? (Answers will vary but may
include that astronauts were prominent in the news; there had been a female
cosmonaut; two manned space flights had taken place in 1961 and 1962 as part
of Project Mercury, and Project Gemini was underway in 1965.)

•

Which Barbie careers were introduced in the 1970s? (Surgeon [1973] and
Olympic downhill skier [1975])

•

Why would Mattel create a surgeon Barbie doll? (Answers will vary but may
include to empower young women, to help young women see themselves as
surgeons as adults, or that the women’s movement was gaining momentum.)

•

Why would Mattel create a downhill skier Barbie? (The Winter Olympics were
coming up in 1976.4)

•

Which Barbie careers were introduced in the 1980s? (Veterinarian [1985] and
astronaut [pink suit; 1986])

•

Why would Mattel repeat an astronaut at this time? (Sally Ride had participated
in missions in 1983 and 1984. Judith Resnik had participated in a 1984 mission
and died in the 1986 Challenger disaster.)

•

Which Barbie careers were introduced between 1990 and 1995? (Naval petty
officer [1991], presidential candidate [1992], Marine Corps sergeant [1992],
business executive [pink suit; 1992], army medic [1993], firefighter [1995])

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Barbie® in the Labor Force

•

What do the majority of these early-1990s careers have in common? (Answers
will vary, but students might note that they are all traditionally male occupations
and that most are protective occupations.)

•

What was happening during the early 1990s that may have influenced Barbie’s
maker to develop those particular Barbie careers? (Middle East military action: In
1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait; in 1991, the U.S. military entered Kuwait.5)

•

Had there been a U.S. female presidential candidate up until 1992? (Yes. Victoria
Woodhull was the first U.S. presidential candidate, representing the Equal Rights
Party in 1872 and the Humanitarian Party in 1892. Of the two dominant parties,
Laura Clay was a Democratic Party nominee in 1920; Margaret Chase Smith was
a Republican primary candidate in 1964; Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug were
Democratic primary candidates in 1972; Ellen McCormack was a Democratic nominee in 1976; and Patricia Schroeder was a Democratic primary candidate in
1988.6)

•

Which Barbie careers were introduced between 1996 and 2000? (Olympic gymnast [1996], dentist [1997], WNBA player [1998], business executive [gray suit;
1999], soccer player [1999], airline pilot [1999], and Olympic swimmer [2000])

•

How would you characterize the Barbie careers of the second half of the 1990s
compared with the first half of the 1990s? (All of the Barbie careers represent
jobs traditionally classified as “men only” jobs. The jobs in the first half of the
decade involved protecting country or community. The Barbies in the second half
of the decade represent women in professional sports and professional jobs.)

•

Which Barbies were introduced after 2000? (Art teacher [2002], producer [2003],
presidential candidate [red suit; 2004], and race car driver [2010])

20. OPTIONAL: Display Slide 8, which provides the years Barbies were released, including
those in the cards and others.
21. Explain that students have speculated as to why some Barbie careers were chosen.
Often, Barbie careers followed historical events and trends or focused on occupations
that the maker of Barbie might want to encourage women to pursue. Distribute
Handout 5: Onion Article and instruct students to read the article regarding the choice
of CEO Barbie.
22. Show Slide 9 and ask the following questions:
•

According to the Onion article, how many of the top 500 American companies
had a female CEO in 2005? (9)

•

What percentage of Fortune 500 CEOs were female in 2005? (1.8)

•

What is the trend in the appointment of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies
since 1995? (It is increasing.)

•

Is the article merely humorous or is there an element of truth? (Answers will vary,

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

but students will likely recognize that, although the trend for Fortune 500 companies to hire female CEOs is increasing, 3.8 percent indicates that aspiring to
become a female CEO of a Fortune 500 company is, at this point, unlikely for
most women. Be sure students recognize that the Onion is a satirical publication.)
23. Explain that there really isn’t a CEO Barbie but female computer engineers banded
together in 2010 to see that computer engineering would become a Barbie career.
They did so for various reasons but, in particular, they wanted to draw attention to
their field. In 2008, women received only 18 percent of the computer science degrees,
down from 37 percent in 1985. Ask students to speculate as to the reason for the drop.
(Answers will vary, but students might suggest that there are other occupations that
are more attractive to women or that women do not like or feel capable of understanding computer science.)
24. Show the video Bridging the Gender Gap: Why More Women Aren’t Computer
Scientists, Engineers (length 7:57) by clicking the link on Slide 10 or going to
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-more-women-aren-t-computer-scientistsengineers.
Alternatively, play the audio version or instruct students to read the transcript. After
viewing, ask the following questions.
•

What are three reasons why so few young women choose to study computer
science, physics, and engineering? (They think those fields are not interesting;
they feel they would not be good at the skills required in those fields; and they
have an unattractive image of people who work in those fields.)

•

Do you think of computer engineering as a “boy thing”? (Answers will vary.
Ask students to explain why they do or do not see it as a boy thing.)

•

Why should women consider computer science, physics, and engineering? (These
fields pay well and offer opportunities to do creative work.)

•

How would women’s involvement in these fields benefit the economy? (Answers
will vary, but students should recall that a greater diversity in products would
result from a female perspective and they should recognize that an increase in
women’s income benefits their families.)

•

What was one thing that happened in the 1970s that may have resulted in an
increase in women becoming doctors and lawyers? (Television programs depicted
women in those roles, and women began entering into those fields.)

•

What does Dr. Klawe suggest as ways to increase women’s interest in these fields?
(Woman should be introduced to these fields just as they are entering college.
Woman in college should have to take an intro course in computer science—one
that is fun.)

•

What suggestions do you have for encouraging women to enter computer science,
physics, and engineering? (Answers will vary.)

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Barbie® in the Labor Force

Use optional procedure steps 25 through 28, or skip to the Closure.
25. Explain that it is suggested that the first computer programmer was a woman. Ada
Lovelace wrote “code” for the Analytical Engine in the early 1840s. Click the “Finding
Ada” link on Slide 10 and ask a student to read Lovelace’s biography.
26. Continue to the next link, “Sketch of the Analytical Engine,” and explain that the
Sketch of The Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage was written by L.F.
Menabrea of Turin, Officer of the Military Engineers, in 1843.
27. Click on the next link, “Sketch of the Analytical Engine (Translated Version)” and
explain that this version is easier to read. This writing was translated by Ada Lovelace,
who also added notes, which are at the end of the document. Scroll down to allow
students to see the type of technical input contributed by Lovelace. Remind students
that Lovelace was the mother of three children and died at the age of 36. She had
done considerable work in very few years.
28. Click on the final link, “Letter from DeMorgan to Lady Byron” (Ada’s mother). Read
the entire letter, with emphasis on the passages pulled from the text. Ask the students
to compare attitudes toward women in technical careers then and now, given what
they’ve learned in this lesson.

Closure
29. Ask the following questions:
•

What is the labor force? (The labor force is the total number of workers, including both the employed and the unemployed.)

•

Approximately what percentage of the labor force is now occupied by females?
(approximately 46.5)

•

What is the trend in women’s share of the labor force? (It had been increasing
until 2011 but recently declined.)

•

What is the trend in women’s career choices? (Answers will vary, but students
should point out that most of the top-10 female occupations in 1950 remained
in the top-20 female occupations in 2010.)

•

How might girls and women be encouraged to enter more diverse fields, such as
computer science and physics? (Answers will vary but students might suggest
that more women in these roles be portrayed in the popular media, that women
be required to take intro courses in these fields, or that efforts be made to change
the perception women have of those who enter these fields by hearing from
more women engineers.)

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Assessment
30. Assign student partners to choose a Barbie career for next year. They must present
their selection in a one-page essay, using a minimum of three sources to investigate
the career choice and justify why the timing of that career choice is appropriate.

Endnotes
1

http://airportjournals.com/women-in-aviation-a-legacy-of-success/;
https://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/topics/women-in-aviation/Warner.cfm.

2

http://womenshistory.about.com/od/aviationspace/a/timeline_space.htm.

3

http://www.amazon.com/review/R273LWNJPO2ZON.

4

http://www.historyonthenet.com/Olympics/olympics_timeline.htm.

5

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations#1990.E2.80.931999.

6

http://womenshistory.about.com/od/publicofficials/tp/ran_for_president.01.htm.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Barbie® in the Labor Force

Handout 1: 1925 Publication Excerpt (page 1 of 2)

SOURCE: Facts about Working Woman, U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, 1925, pp. 1-2;
https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/title/5363.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Handout 1: 1925 Publication Excerpt (page 2 of 2)

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Handout 2: Labor Force Participation

SOURCE: https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/title/299?start_page=4.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Handout 3: Barbie Cards (page 1 of 5)

Art Teacher

Olympic
Skier

Race Car
Driver

Producer

Business
Executive

Presidential
Candidate

“Barbie®” photographs ©Mattel, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved. All “Barbie®” images appear courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Handout 3: Barbie Cards (page 2 of 5)

Army Medic

Naval Petty
Officer

Firefighter

Presidential
Candidate

Astronaut

Marine Corps
Sergeant

“Barbie®” photographs ©Mattel, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved. All “Barbie®” images appear courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Barbie® in the Labor Force

Handout 3: Barbie Cards (page 3 of 5)

Veterinarian

Surgeon

“Barbie®” photographs ©Mattel, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved. All “Barbie®” images appear courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Handout 3: Barbie Cards (page 4 of 5)

Olympic
Swimmer
“Barbie®” photographs ©Mattel, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved. All “Barbie®” images appear courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

Handout 3: Barbie Cards (page 5 of 5)

Business
Executive

Olympic
Gymnast

WNBA
Player

Soccer
Player

Dentist

Airline
Pilot

“Barbie®” photographs ©Mattel, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved. All “Barbie®” images appear courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

Handout 4: Barbie Careers Time Line (page 1 of 3)

2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

Handout 4: Barbie Careers Time Line (page 2 of 3)

1994
1993
1992
1991
1990
1989
1988
1987
1986
1985
1984
1983
1982
1981
1980
1979
1978
1977
© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

Handout 4: Barbie Careers Time Line (page 3 of 3)

1976
1975
1974
1973
1972
1971
1970
1969
1968
1967
1966
1965
1964
1963
1962
1961
1960
1959
© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

Handout 5: Onion Article* (page 1 of 2)

CEO Barbie Criticized For Promoting
Unrealistic Career Images
Issue 41 • 36 • Sep 7, 2005
EL SEGUNDO, CA—Toy company Mattel is under fire from a group of activists who say their
popular doll’s latest incarnation, CEO Barbie, encourages young girls to set impractical career
goals.
“This doll furthers the myth that if a woman
works hard and sticks to her guns, she can rise
to the top,” said Frederick Lang of the Changes
Institute, a children’s advocacy organization. “Our
young girls need to learn to accept their career
futures, not be set up with ridiculously unattainable images.”
The issue was first brought to national attention
by mother, activist, and office manager Connie
Bergen, 36, who became concerned when her
5-year-old daughter received the doll as a birthday gift and began “playing CEO.”
“Women don’t run companies,” Bergen said.
“Typically, those with talent, charisma, and luck
work behind the scenes to bring a man’s vision
to light.”

Mattel’s controversial CEO Barbie.

She added: “Real women in today’s work force don’t have Barbie’s Dream Corner Office.
More often than not, they have cubicles—or Dream Kitchens. I mean, what’s next? ‘Accepted
By Her Male Peers’ Polly Pocket?”
Despite the growing furor over the doll, Mattel’s top brass has indicated no plans to cease its
production, insisting that the newest member of the Barbie family represents a positive role
model for girls.
“Young girls can be anything they want. There is nothing standing in their way,” read a statement signed by Mattel CEO Robert Eckert, president Matt Bousquette, executive vice president
Tom Debrowski, and CFO Kevin Farr.
Said Bergen: “I graduated cum laude from Radcliffe and have worked hard all my life, and
my career doesn’t look anything like Barbie’s. Currently, there are only nine female CEOs in
America’s top 500 companies. To tell our daughters anything else is a lie.”

*Used with permission.
© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

Handout 5: Onion Article (page 2 of 2)
Figures released by the Changes Institute indicate that, although women make up 46 percent
of the work force, a mere 15 percent are senior managers. Lang maintains that these facts
don’t square with the image of the career woman put forth by the doll.
Said Lang: “Any girl who thinks that she can run
a large corporation when she grows up is in for a
bitter disappointment, and it is simply shameful
that Mattel would seek to cash in on impressionable young girls this way.”
CEO Barbie comes with a number of accessories
and environments, including the Super Barbie
Conference Fun Table, Barbie’s Company Dream
Car and Underpaid Assistant Ken. But by far the
most popular version of the doll has been the
Talking CEO Barbie.
“This doll says things like, ‘Did you get me those
projections?’ and, ‘We need to cut our operating
costs by 10 percent,’” Lang said. “It is dishonest
to dangle this carrot of success in front of our
daughters’ noses, when we know that the odds
that a girl will grow up to order someone around are virtually zero.”
Lang said he does not expect Mattel to recall CEO Barbie, but he wants to send a powerful
message to the people in charge.
“When your daughter comes home crying because she was passed over for a promotion for
the fourth time, what are you going to tell her?” Lang asked. “It would be easier if she’d
been raised with dolls like Glass Ceiling American Girl, Service Sector Bratz, or Maria The
White House Maid.”

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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PowerPoint/SMART/ActivInspire Lesson Plan

Barbie® in the Labor Force

Standards and Benchmarks
Common Core State Standards: English Language Arts
Reading: Informational Text
•

Key Ideas and Details
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to
support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from
the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3: Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of
events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop
over the course of the text.

•

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as
well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

•

Craft and Structure
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in
a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.

Common Core State Standards: Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science,
and Technical Subjects, Grades 6-12
History/Social Studies
•

Key Ideas and Details
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis
of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific
details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3: Evaluate various explanations for actions or
events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence,
acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as
well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9: Integrate information from diverse sources, both
primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting
discrepancies among sources.

© 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational
purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

25


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