Last week in a coffee shop, a complete stranger felt compelled to show me an article in the local newspaper. It was an article about career-oriented Barbie dolls. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that a recent poll on Mattel's website asked people to vote on what career the next Barbie doll in the "I Can Be …" category should have.

"Mattel gave them a choice of architect, anchorwoman, computer engineer, environmentalist and surgeon," the WSJ reports, resulting in more than 600,000 votes during a four-week period. "Girls the world over overwhelmingly cast their ballot for anchorwoman Barbie …. But by the end of the first week, a growing flood of adult votes for computer engineer Barbie trumped the popular choice. Female computer engineers who learned about the election launched a viral campaign on the Internet to get out the vote and ensure Barbie would join their ranks." Both dolls are now available on the Mattel website.

The kind, quirky woman brandishing a page out of her newspaper seemed far more excited about Barbie's new career aspirations than I did, but the WSJ story suggests that a lot of women feel strongly about the symbolism of Barbie. What is it about these dolls that women take so personally?

Perhaps I would be more interested if Barbie's career path more closely mirrored my own. In Ohio, a female Episcopal priest recently took that matter into her own hands, creating her own version of career Barbie: the High Church Reverend. Although she's not available for sale by Mattel, this Barbie has attracted 6,000 friends on her Facebook page and a story by the Religion News Service last week.

My first thought on reading about the Rev. Barbie was hesitation over the idea of encouraging girls to "aspire" ...

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