Builder Barbie sparks debate across social media

Debate on social media around women in construction have continued since the blockbuster movie Barbie hit cinemas in July.

Builder Depot led the way with its X (Twitter) post on the day of the film’s launch, kicking off the debate with the following: “Barbie has had many careers, including working in #construction with the Barbie #Builder Doll.

“In 2023, only 15% of the construction workforce are female, showing we need more #womeninconstruction. Ladies, let Barbie be your positive influence – if she can do it, so can you!”

Sir Robert McAlpine took the ball and ran with it, with a 30-second film of its own that has gained a lot of attention on business platform LinkedIn, as well as X.

The Sir Robert McAlpine communications team wrote: “Together, we can break stereotypes and prove that the #construction industry is for everyone.”

Scaffolder Lee Moore-Ross commented on the LI post, “what on earth has a doll got to do with the construction industry?” and Dan Greener, quantity surveyor, thought it was a “waste of company money, stupid and irrelevant content in my opinion”.

There was also a lot of positivity.

Policy manager Sandra Johnson said, “loved this fun way of showing diverse women on site”, and managing director Rachel Preen said it “lifted my soul” adding “as a female managing director in the construction sector, I hope I’m breaking those [stereotypes] with you [Sir Robert McAlpine].

Disturbing and disappointing

Chartered quantity surveyor Faye Allen wrote on LinkedIn about the movie: “I found the entire start great at showing patriarchy and just how awful it’s been for women with the complete role reversal… I found the end deeply disturbing and disappointing.”

Allen said she is writing her own book about women in construction and the issues they face.

Property recruitment consultant Bethany Lloyd posted on LI: “A noteworthy moment was Barbie realising that in the ‘real world’ construction is a male-dominated industry.

“This accurately reflects the property industry today, highlighting the importance of recruiting more women and eliminating the gender pay gap.”

Science technician and chief operating officer Britt Dewing wrote about how to attract more women into STEM, writing, “Mattel didn’t fix the patriarchy by producing all of these Barbies. The power of diverse role models only extends so far.”

Meanwhile over on X, health and safety trainer Astutis (@Astutis) was keen to point out that Builder Barbie was a H&S risk and needed an outfit change.

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