PORTLAND – A new study on childhood behavior asked the question: Can Barbie and Mrs. Potato Head influence a young girl’s career ambitions?
Researchers at Oregon State University tried to find out if girls who played with the dolls differed in how they saw their future job options. Girls four to ten were each given either a barbie doll or a Mrs. Potato Head to play with. After a few minutes they were asked which jobs they thought they could do in the future.
Mrs. Potato Head fared better when it came to making girls dream big about what jobs they could handle when they grow up, according to the research.
Barbie, on the other hand, creates a limit on what kids see as possible, Researchers said. They found girls who played with the doll saw fewer career options.That was even though researchers had the girls, play with career Barbie who had a doctor’s coat and a stethoscope.
Along with the Barbie dolls, girls were given Mrs. Potato Head.
Researchers then asked the girls if they felt they could do any of 10 selected occupations when they grew up.
The girls who played with Barbie thought they could do fewer jobs than boys could, while those who went for Mrs. Potato Head saw the same number of possible careers for themselves as boys, researchers said.
Associate Professor Aurora Sherman did the study and admitted that more research needs to be done. She's already working on two other doll-related studies.
For now, her advice to parents is to make sure that they provide a variety of options in that toy box.
KGW reporter Cathy Marshall contributed to this report