Cultural stereotypes, implicit biases and representation in media work together to further this issue. Picture: YouTube.com

This week, Barbie® announced the Dream Gap Project, a multi-year global initiative to raise awareness around limiting factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential.

Research* has identified that starting at age five many girls are less likely than boys to view their own gender as smart and begin to lose confidence in their own competence. 

Cultural stereotypes, implicit biases and representation in media work together to further this issue. In the US, this has been referenced as the “Dream Gap,” but there are similar trends seen around the world.

Girls’ belief in themselves is impacted by these limiting factors, so Barbie is dedicated to funding research, highlighting positive role models and rallying a community around supporting girls through The Dream Gap Project.

“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, General Manager and Senior Vice President, 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.”

The notion of a Dream Gap is still a relatively new concept and is under-researched, especially in girls 5-7 years old. To help, the brand is collaborating with Associate Professor Andrei Cimpian of New York University to fund a two-year post-doctoral fellowship on this issue. Globally, Barbie will work with local researchers to extend these studies and find out more about girls around the world.

“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 Andrei Cimpian, Associate Professor at New York University. 

“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.”

* Study conducted by researchers at New York University, the University of Illinois and Princeton University.