Barbie’s an architect!

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Mattel unveiled the latest addition to its line of career Barbie dolls — Architect Barbie — at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention in New Orleans Thursday, May 12. The new doll makes her appearance at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on the 125th anniversary of women being allowed to join professional architectural organizations in the United States.

The convention continues from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through Saturday, May 14.

Despina Stratigakos, professor of Architectural history at the University at Buffalo (UB), part of the State University of New York System, and Kelly Hayes McAlonie, associate director of the Capital Planning Group at UB and 2011 president-elect of the AIA New York State, helped Mattel develop the new Barbie to spark girls’ interest in the profession. The doll sports black-frame glasses, ankle boots, a hard hat and a jacket worn over a stylish dress with a bodice showcasing a city skyline. She also comes with a fashionable shoulder-strap blueprint tube that carries her latest building designs — and comes with a model of her newest Dream House.

Architect Barbie is part of Mattel’s “I Can Be …” line in which Barbie has had dozens of careers, including last year’s computer engineer Barbie. The architect doll was developed to spotlight opportunities for women in what traditionally has been a male-dominated field. Only 17 percent of AIA members were women as of November 2010. Other careers in the I Can Be … line include veterinarian, ballerina, racecar driver, pediatrician, news anchor, chef, ballroom dancer, movie star, dentist, doctor, lifeguard and more. Architect Barbie will retail for $13.99 and will be on store shelves in August.

At its convention, the AIA is showing about 400 girls what architecture is about through daily interactive workshops conducted by AIA members.

A Mattel display at the convention includes a showcase of all the career Barbies, along with the 1970s Barbie Dream House and its modern-day version. There also is a Dream House competition in which AIA members will create a new Dream House for Barbie.

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