• ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, the only active female astronaut in Europe, unveiled as a role model for girls as part of the Barbie Dream Gap Project and presented with a one-of-a-kind doll in her likeness

• The programme is part of the brand’s commitment to honour women who are breaking boundaries to inspire the next generation of girls

• Results are also unveiled today of UK research conducted by Barbie around parental knowledge of STEM and their awareness of space careers and role models

• It shows that over half of British parents have no awareness of the names of any of the top female space pioneers in contrast to knowing most of their male counterparts

•Child Psychologist Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, who consulted Barbie around key elements of the study, fears that a lack of parental knowledge about STEM careers and role models could be “cutting their child’s dreams short, before they have even got off the ground.”

(Press release, London): Barbie and the European Space Agency (ESA) have partnered to further inspire girls to become the next generation of astronauts, engineers and space scientists by today highlighting the achievements of the only active female astronaut in Europe, Samantha Cristoforetti, presenting her with a one-of-a-kind doll in the likeness of the ESA astronaut to inspire girls throughout Europe.   

A photograph of Samantha posing with her doll has been released to press today along with new research from Barbie around how much knowledge parents have about space and their awareness of STEM-related careers and role models that exist within the space industry (see bottom half of press release for UK survey results and full results attached as an Excel spreadsheet). The same survey has also been carried out by Barbie in Germany, Italy and France.

42-year-old Cristoforetti is an aviator, engineer, astronaut and is the first Italian female crew member of the European Space Agency. She said that she hoped that this collaboration with Barbie “will help young girls and boys to dream about their future without limits.”

This collaboration is part of the Barbie Dream Gap Project, an on-going initiative with the goal of levelling the playing field for girls globally. Research has identified that starting at age five, many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs and doubt their full potential – this is called the Dream Gap. This collaboration, highlighting the fact that only 15 percent of active astronauts are female and no woman has ever landed on the moon, is part of the Barbie brand commitment to highlight role models that show girls they can be anything and help close the Dream Gap.

As the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon-landing approaches, a series of motivating new short-form videos aimed at parents and young girls will be released to kick off the collaboration showing Cristoforetti welcoming girls from the UK, Germany, France and Italy into the ESA European Astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany, where they spent time shadowing her and then quizzing her about her extraordinary day job. Additionally, there will be kids-targeted content on Barbie’s successful YouTube vlogger channel highlighting Cristoforetti’s achievements.

Isabel Ferrer, European Director of Marketing for Barbie, said: “We are proud to launch this collaboration with the ESA with a clear goal: to inspire girls to become the next generation of astronauts, engineers and space scientists. Barbie has always shown girls that they can be anything, giving them the opportunity to interpret different roles through play and embark on countless number of careers encouraging imagination and self-expression. We know how important it is for girls to have role models and this new ESA collaboration helps us to take this to an astronomical new level.”

Ersilia Vaudo-Scarpetta, Chief Diversity Officer for ESA, said: “While boys and girls generally achieve the same scores in science and math, few girls dream of becoming scientists, engineers, or space professionals. Social and cultural factors play an important role as the attitude of the family environment towards science and scientific professions. The European Space Agency is strongly engaged in promoting girls’ interest in STEM subjects and space careers in particular, as we need a diversity of talents to imagine and enable the future in space. We are therefore proud to launch ESA’s collaboration with Barbie, highlighting inspiring role models as the astronauts and encouraging girls to believe in themselves, look at the sky and dream high.”

 UK Research Conducted by Barbie in June 2019

Barbie commissioned research in the UK in June 2019, to understand parental attitudes and knowledge around STEM – to see if it could be a limiting factor, including being a possible barrier, to girls entering space jobs such as astronauts, engineers and space scientists.

The survey of 2,000 British parents of girls aged 3-10 explored how much knowledge parents have about space and their awareness of STEM-related careers and role models that exist within the space industry. It shows that 80 percent of parents admit to lack of knowledge and four in 10 admit 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.

Furthermore, Child Psychologist Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, who consulted Barbie around key elements of the study, fears that a lack of parental knowledge about STEM careers and role models could be “cutting their child’s dreams short, before they have even got off the ground.”

Other findings of the UK survey highlight that:

• Almost all parents have an awareness of males within the space industry, including a high awareness of those like Yuri Gagarin, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin and two thirds know astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first person to step foot on the moon’s surface
• But in stark contrast, very few have ever heard of female such as Katie Bouman, Nancy Grace Roman or Liu Yang and a majority (52%) of those questioned have no idea of any of the names of the top female space pioneers
• Helen Sharman comes out top female in the UK with a 16% awareness rating amongst parents – the rest of the women each scored below 10% (See notes to editors for full rundown and of parents’ awareness ratings of male and female space pioneers)
• A fifth are convinced a woman has walked on the moon – in realty just 12 men have had the privilege thus far
•70 per cent agree that achievements of females in space need to be given more of an equal footing to those of their male counterparts
• A third do not believe there are enough positive role models in space and STEM-related fields for girls

Despite a lack of knowledge – which eight in 10 parents openly admit to – 69 percent want to know more about space and STEM-related careers to help inform their children. And a third claim their young daughter already shows interest in wanting to pursue a job which is related to space, science or technology.

The study found eight in 10 parents are passionate about knowing how to encourage their daughter’s dreams, but 58 per cent said if she wanted to become an astronaut, they would not know how to proceed.

To address the issue, Barbie has today published a set of helpful STEM tips for parents and caregivers that have been written in conjunction 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.

Dr Elizabeth Kilbey commented: “Being a parent is a tough job, but one of the most rewarding parts has to be nurturing our children’s dreams and ambitions. And when it comes to our daughters, we want those dreams to be limitless. This research shows that one of the most powerful things parents can do is to build their knowledge, including around STEM careers and positive female role models, to show our daughters that the sky’s the limit when it comes to their future”.


Notes to Editors:

Full Results of the Barbie research conducted June 2019
A full excel spreadsheet which includes all results is attached. They include 14 questions asked to 2,000 British parents of girls aged 3-10 years. Here are some pull out stats comparing British parents’ awareness of female space pioneers versus their awareness of male space pioneers as discussed above. For all other results please refer to the Excel grid.

British parents awareness ratings of female space pioneers

Nancy Grace Roman – 7%

Liu Yang – 7%

Margaret Hamilton – 8%

Sally Ride – 7%

Yelena V. Kondakova – 7%

Yelena Serova – 6%

Svetlana Savitskaya -7%

Susan Helms – 5%

Yi So-yeon – 4%

Anousheh Ansari – 4%

Claudie Haigneré – 5%

Kathryn (‘Kathy’) Sullivan – 8%

Mae Jemison – 5%

Helen Sharman – 16%

Valentina Tereshokova – 9%

Kathleen Rubins – 5%

Katie Bouman – 6%

None of the above – 53%

British parents awareness ratings of male space pioneers

Yuri Gagarin – 34%

Tim Peake – 44%

Buzz Aldrin – 50%

Alan B Shephard Jr – 12%

Michael Collins – 19%

James Lovell Jr – 13%

Elon Musk – 35%

John Glenn – 15%

John Young – 9%

Ed White – 7%

Galileo Galilei – 36%

Isaac Newton – 62%

Charles Messier – 10%

Albert Einstein – 64%

Stephen Hawking – 65%

None of the above – 8%

About the Barbie Dream Gap Project
To continue the brand’s ongoing global initiative to #CloseTheDreamGap, Barbie donated $1 from every doll sold1 in the U.S. during our 60th celebration to the Barbie Dream Gap Project Fund. This fund will be dedicated to supporting like-minded organizations who are levelling the playing field for girls, while raising awareness to limiting factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential.  What is the Dream Gap? Starting at age 5, many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs.2 They stop believing their gender can do or be anything. This is the Dream Gap, and this is the year Barbie begins working to close it. As the original girl empowerment brand, we’re proud to announce the Dream Gap Project, an ongoing global initiative that aims to give girls the resources and support they need to continue to believe that they can be anything. Research shows that children pick up on cultural stereotypes at a very young age that suggest women aren’t as smart as men. These stereotypes are often perpetuated by the media and grown-ups who subtly reinforce them. The self-limiting beliefs these stereotypes create can snowball to affect a girl’s trajectory and future career choices. They may even discourage women to pursue prestigious careers, especially in fields that value brilliance

About the ESA
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA is an international organisation with 22 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. Visit:

About Dr Elizabeth Kilbey
Dr Elizabeth Kilbey is a leading clinical psychologist and an expert on Channel 4’s “The Secret Life of 4 and 5 Year Olds”. She is a consultant clinical psychologist who has spent the last 12 years working with children both within the NHS and privately. She has a Masters in Child Development and during her career she has helped families to tackle everything from toddler tantrums to teenage meltdowns as well as more complex and challenging mental health difficulties. Her first book, “Unplugged Parenting”, was published in September 2017. Elizabeth has three children of her own.

About Mattel
Mattel is a leading global children’s entertainment company that specializes in design and production of quality toys and consumer products. We create innovative products and experiences that inspire, entertain and develop children through play. We engage consumers through our portfolio of iconic franchises, including Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, American Girl®, Fisher-Price®, Thomas & Friends® and MEGA®, as well as other popular brands that we own or license in partnership with global entertainment companies. Our offerings include film and television content, gaming, music and live events. We operate in 40 locations and sell products in more than 150 countries in collaboration with the world’s leading retail and technology companies. Since its founding in 1945, Mattel is proud to be a trusted partner in exploring the wonder of childhood and empowering kids to reach their full potential. Visit us online at