Barbie summer is transitioning into Barbie fall, and the residents of "Barbieland" are getting some new friends. Launching today (Sept. 6), Barbie's 2023 Career of the Year collection unveils four new Barbies working in the world of sports, aimed at empowering the next generation of female leaders in the industry.
The Career of the Year collection is an annual special release that features dolls in "culturally relevant and aspirational roles in fields where women are underrepresented," Mattel explains in its press release. According to the company, Barbie has had more than 250 careers.
"Women have been working towards greater gender equality in sports for decades, but still in 2023, women only make up 25 percent of U.S. college level head coaches and only 30 percent of global sports participants are women," Mattel writes. "This year, our Career of the Year lineup highlights four careers in the sports industry...to encourage girls to pursue involvement in sports and increase opportunities for girls as the next generation of empowered women."
The 2023 line highlights opportunities that aren't just on the field or court, including a general manager (complete with official ID badge), referee (equipped with headset, whistle, and flag), coach (holding her playbook and megaphone), and sports reporter (carrying her own microphone and notebook).
Mattel is also partnering with Voice In Sport, an online community and advocacy group for women and girls in sports, offering research, mentorship, and other resources.
On Sept. 12, Mattel and Voice in Sport will host a 45-minute virtual mentoring session on "Building a Career in Sports," featuring Voice in Sports founder and former executive Stef Strack and Dr. Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL and the first woman to play running back in men's professional football. The event will be hosted by Pepper Persley, a 12-year-old sports journalist and host of the Dish with Pepper web series. The free session is open to girls ages 12-13.
The dolls come at the same time women's sports are witnessing a rise in popular attention, as well as long-awaited legal wins for equity across sports. Just last month, the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup sold more than 1.7 million tickets and set new records for the tournament's broadcast and digital viewership.
On TikTok, women's sports have found an impressively vocal market of young viewers and enthusiasts, spurring accounts dedicated to game highlights and influencers who have committed to documenting the world of women's sports. Last week, women's tennis took over many users' For You Pages after U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff called out unfair treatment during a U.S. Open match.
Elsewhere, women's sports games are seeing record-breaking in-person attendance numbers, including an astonishing 92,000-person turnout for a recent University of Nebraska women's volleyball match. The previous U.S. record was set in 1999 at the Women's World Cup final in Pasadena, California.
At the same time, however, women's sports professionals still face excessive negative backlash, and advocates and professionals are still waging a battle for equal pay across all sports.
Barbie joins the conversation in her own way, using the power of representation to inspire the next generation of women in the sports industry and honor those who are speaking up to make a difference today.
The Women in Sports Career of the Year lineup is available on Mattel Shop for $49.99 starting today.