Barbie Addresses ‘The Dream Gap’ Affecting Young Girls


Barbie Close the Dream Gap

Mattel’s Barbie is championing awareness of “The Dream Gap”—the split that “comes between girls and their full potential.”

Created to celebrate the International Day of the Girl, the new spot addresses the limiting self-doubts that can affect girls as young as age five.

The video is part of Mattel’s Dream Gap Project, a multi-year global initiative to raise awareness of factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential.

The spot states that young girls “are three times less likely to be given a science-related toy,” and that parents are twice as likely to Google search “Is my son gifted?” than “Is my daughter gifted?”

A study conducted by researchers at New York University, the University of Illinois and Princeton University found that as early as age five, girls begin to view their own gender as less smart than boys, and confidence in their own competence starts to diminish.

The brand is partnering with NYU Associate Professor Andrei Cimpian on a two-year post-doctoral fellowship on the global issue. “Our research is just the beginning—we need to dedicate more resources to this important topic so that we can better understand how to support girls,” said Cimpian, in a press release. “This collaboration with Barbie is a large-scale, ambitious effort to explore this important phenomenon and share what we know about childhood development to a mass audience, so we can help close the Dream Gap.”

The ad asks “moms, dads, brothers and bosses” to address this issue with a mind not only to how they treat the girls in their lives, but through the products they create.

“Since 1959, Barbie has inspired the limitless potential in every girl and we believe that empowering them at a young age is a catalyst to unlocking their full potential,” said Lisa McKnight, GM/SVP Barbie. “The goal of The Dream Gap Project is to leverage Barbie’s global platforms to educate society on gender biases and inspire any supporter of girls to join us as we can’t do this alone.”

Mattel outlined the five pillars they embrace in addressing the Dream Gap:

  • Raising awareness through impactful content
  • Showing girls more role models
  • Leveraging Barbie as a role model
  • Continuing to offer empowering products
  • Rallying partners around the world

The company will highlight at least 10 empowering female role models each year globally, and continue creating content that supports female empowerment through Barbie Vlogger.

“By continuing to infuse purpose-driven themes in content, such as Barbie Vlogger, we are addressing issues that girls face in a unique and approachable way,” the brand said.

Barbie is a shining example of a brand’s transformation and modernization—ringing an alarm bell on gender, starting with the 2015 “Imagine the Possibilities” ad about career potential and including last year’s “Dad’s Who Play Barbie,” airing during the NFL playoffs.

Keeping up with the times, a new doll honoring Jodie Whittaker, the first woman ever to seize the title role in the iconic series, “Doctor Who,” is now available for pre-sale on

Mattel operates in 40 locations and sells products in more than 150 countries . The company is well-poised to further the conversation on gender equality with an iconic doll that epitomizes the modern female: adapting to succeed—with a little help from family and friends.

Here’s the 1959 first ever Barbie commercial aired during Mickey Mouse Club.


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