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Barbie might limit girls' career aspirations, study says

March 05, 2014|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

2014 isn't starting off so well for Barbie. 

Last month, the doll caused a stir when it was featured in the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. Now, an Oregon State University study suggests playing with Barbie dolls could make young girls see themselves with limited career options. 

The study, according to a press release from the university, randomly assigned groups of girls aged 4 to 7 three types of dolls--a fashion Barbie with high-end shoes, a career Barbie dressed as a doctor and a "neutral" Mrs. Potato Head. 

After a few minutes of playing with the dolls, the girls were then asked if they could envision doing ten different occupations when they were older--half male-dominated and half female-dominated. 

The study found girls who played with the Barbies said they could do fewer of the jobs--and it made no difference whether they played with the doctor Barbie or fashion Barbie. 

"Playing with Barbie has an effect on girls’ ideas about their place in the world," said Aurora M. Sherman, who was a part of organizing the study. 

The university said it plans similar studies, such as investigation into whether girls' weight and body image perceptions are influenced by different dolls. 

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