Purposeful Play


The Barbie X ESA partnership was forged after research in the UK conducted in 2019* showed four out of ten parents believed they may be holding their daughter back from entering or learning about this type of career, due to their own lack of wisdom in this area. A third did not believe there are enough positive role models in space and STEM-related fields for girls, and 70 per cent agreed that achievements of females in space needed to be given more of an equal footing to those of their male counterparts. Barbie is partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA) and its only active European female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to celebrate ‘Women in Space’ and inspire girls everywhere to see the STEM field as a viable career option. With STEM careers still underrepresented by women, Barbie is using its platform to show girls exciting and diverse roles and activity in space for them to explore their limitless potential.

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More role models! Watch our inspiring video of ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti answer the questions of Elisabeth, 10 years old, from the UK from space, quizzing her on how she looks after her health in space, what kind of food she eats, why she became an astronaut and how she keeps in touch with her family back on Earth.

Five children from around Europe were invited to put their questions to the famously multilingual astronaut via the charity Inspiring Girls, a international charity for girls founded by Miriam González Durántez, focusing on raising aspirations of young girls around the world by connecting them with amazing role models. All girls attended workshops of Inspiring Girls previously and were excited to be able to ask Samantha Cristoforetti while she is on her second mission on the ISS.



Girls are 3x less likely to be given a science-related toy than boys².

Parents are 2x more likely to ask Google "is my son gifted?" than "is my daughter gifted"³.

As girls grow older, they lose confidence in their smarts relative to boys.⁴

Why is it important to inspire girls & close the Dream Gap?

Research shows*, women are still underrepresented in STEM careers and even at a young age, girls say that they are least confident in their maths skills in school. This means that they are missing out on potentially fulfilling and highly paid careers in the industry, where employment growth rate is three times faster than for non-STEM jobs.

Showing girls STEM careers is one of the ways Barbie is working to close the Dream Gap – in the age when girls stop believing in themselves. Research shows that starting at age 5, many girls develop self-limiting beliefs and begin to think they're not as smart and capable as boys. They stop believing their gender can do or be anything. Barbie launched the Dream Gap Project in 2018, an ongoing global initiative that gives girls the resources and support they need to continue believing in themselves.

Top Tips for parents to encourage girls into STEM

Top Tips for parents to encourage girls into STEM

Barbie has a set of helpful STEM tips for parents and caregivers that have been written in conjuntion with Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, Consultant Clinical Psychologist working with young children and families, to assist them in encouraging young girls to aspire to a career in space or STEM-related field.

Learning & Activity Booklet "Life in Space"

In this booklet we provide insights and activities about life of an astronaut and being in space. For children 5-8 yrs old.

Barbie's Vlog about Samantha Cristoforetti

Samantha Cristoforetti

Astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA)

Samantha Cristoforetti, 45, from Italy, is an aviator, engineer, astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the first female European commander of the ISS. She has started her second spaceflight mission, Minerva, and lived and worked over five months on the International Space Station from April 2022 onwards supporting various European and international experiments in orbit.

1Study conducted by researchers at New York University, the University of Illinois, and Princeton University.

2OECD, Education Indicators in Focus, October 2017.

3US Google Trends.

4Omnibus study by Enso.

5Video: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/whm-recent-female-astronauts & https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/10/science/600-astronauts-space.html