Despite strides forward in equality, women are still underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers across the globe. We don’t think that’s right and nor do Mattel. Barbie is one of the world’s most recognisable toys targeted at girls and since her introduction more than 60 years ago, she’s been showing that no career should be off limits to women.

When Barbie’s 60th anniversary coincided with the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, Mattel’s marketing team at the T1 Agency asked us to make a daydream come true and launch Astronaut Barbie into space for real. T1 worked with non-profit organisation STEM Camp to develop a series of activities to inspire local girls to engage with STEM study, following Barbie’s advice that “you can be anything”. Events like this are an incredible way to connect with an audience and generate a positive buzz for a brand.

To make the launch happen, we used our contacts at the Canadian Aviation Authority to secure exclusive license to launch from the city area, designing our payload around the specific conditions laid out in Canadian airspace regulations and responsively adapting our launch procedure to fit the timetable of T1’s other events. Before the launch, we delivered a presentation to the girls explaining the role of STEM education in our work and answering questions about our planet, spaceflight and the many contributions made by women throughout history, some of which are still only now coming to light after years of being ignored.

Thanks to the slick collaboration of all stakeholders, we created a wonderful timetable of events which inspired hundreds of future female scientists, engineers and astronauts.