VIRGIN ATLANTIC PARTNERS WITH BARBIE TO INSPIRE YOUNGER GIRLS TO EXPLORE CAREERS IN STEM AND AVIATION
- Project celebrates two iconic brands and aims to show younger girls the scope of careers at Virgin Atlantic
- Barbie has created bespoke one-of-a-kind dolls, which represent three Virgin Atlantic careers in STEM and aviation – pilot, cabin crew and engineer
- Partnership includes primary school visits from real-life female pilots and engineers
Virgin Atlantic announced that it has teamed up with Barbie to show girls a variety of careers in STEM and aviation and remind them they can be anything. Virgin and Barbie created three one-of-a-kind dolls to celebrate the partnership; pilot, engineer and cabin crew. Current statistics from the Women’s Engineering Society indicate that only 12% of the UK engineering workforce is female and similar statistics show that only 4.3% of UK pilots are women, with the aviation sector in particular dominated by men.
Originally created to show girls that they have choices, Barbie has had over 200 careers throughout her history, and in the brand’s 60th year three Virgin Atlantic careers join the ranks to inspire girls to believe anything is possible.
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. To champion change, Barbie launched the an on-going initiative with the goal of levelling the playing field for girls globally. Barbie knows that showing girls more role models and telling their stories This partnership is the next step in the brand’s commitment to show girls more role models and tell their stories to help close the Dream Gap.
The partnership between Virgin Atlantic and Barbie marks the start of a wider initiative at the airline to encourage more women to pursue STEM and aviation careers. Working with its charity partner, WE, the Passport for Change programme aims to inspire young people to engage with STEM subjects and consider a future in aviation. Virgin Atlantic and Barbie’s dual mission to inspire girls through more careers include its annual Future Flyer open day at the airline’s HQ, leveraging female engineers and pilots to show girls real role models, through school visits and trips to the airline’s engineering hangars, that spotlight STEM careers using Barbie as an educational tool, inspiring on-board Barbie content, and a social campaign; #SeeHerFly.
Virgin Atlantic, in an effort to have more female representation and highlight its career opportunities for women, recruited the world’s number #1 fashion doll to create one-of-a-kind dolls, which introduce different careers to a younger generation of girls.
The one-of-a-kind dolls were designed in the likeness of real Virgin Atlantic uniforms and show different skin tones and body types, reflecting the diversity seen in the Barbie line. The pilot doll has articulated ankles with flat shoes and wears a pilot’s uniform complete with wings and badge. The engineer doll wears flat safety boots, an access lanyard and noise-cancelling headphones. The cabin crew doll pays homage to the iconic red Virgin Atlantic Vivienne Westwood uniform.
While these Virgin Atlantic dolls are one-of-a-kind, young fans can imagine themselves in-flight with the Barbie Pilot doll as well as play out different roles in other fields with other Barbie career dolls available. Later in the year, Pilot and Crew dolls will be sold on-board and in key retail partners to further celebrate the partnership.
Nikki Humphrey, SVP People at Virgin Atlantic, commented;
“We know that women are currently underrepresented across a number of careers within aviation. We also know we can’t change this position overnight. Therefore, it’s imperative we play the long-game, highlighting to primary aged children that any job role is open and our partnership with Barbie marks another milestone in our commitment to this. It’s astounding that girls start believing they can’t follow a certain career path from as young as five and it’s our ambition to help close the dream gap. By working with Barbie, it allows us to speak directly to our future generation of aviation professionals, whether they aspire to be cabin crew, engineers or pilots.”
Phil Maher, EVP Operations at Virgin Atlantic, commented;
“It’s essential that Virgin Atlantic plays a pivotal role in encouraging women to succeed in STEM careers. It’s evident that for those women who do become pilots and engineers, career satisfaction is exceptionally high, and it’s no surprise that job satisfaction is exceptionally high. It’s essential we showcase to girls of all ages just how fulfilling a career in our industry can be and our partnership with Barbie is just one of the steps we’re undertaking to achieve this.”
Dawn Childs, President of the Women’s Engineering Society, commented;
“The fact that so many young girls narrow their career prospects from an early age by believing that some roles and jobs simply are not for them is a tragedy. This is not just a tragedy for them but it denies businesses 50% of the potential future talent pool at a time when the engineering skills gap is widening and unsustainable. This fabulous initiative will help to normalise seeing women in these vital roles and help them to aim high in their future career aspirations.”
Recently, the airline was a founding member of Women in Aviation and Aerospace in 2018 as well as a signatory of the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure charter. Virgin Atlantic has also developed a Springboard Network which aims to help women in junior roles develop clear career pathways to become senior leaders.
For anybody looking to take the next step in their aviation career, Virgin Atlantic offers both cabin crew and engineering apprenticeships as well as a pilot cadet scheme. More information can be found at