Gender Roles Influence Children’s Leadership Ambitions

Recent research from NYU suggests that gender gaps in leadership interest may start in childhood — and that gender differences in expectations of social support may contribute to these gaps. It also indicates that early interventions may help nurture children’s leadership ambitions.

Learn More about how Barbie is helping to nurture leadership in girls at an early age.

Girls’ View on Leadership: Advocating for Self & Others

Barbie funded a 2021 research program to teach high school girls how to study the diverse experiences of 145 girls in grades K–2. They found that (1) rigid gender expectations and biases negatively impact young girls, (2) relationships give girls a sense of belonging, and (3) girls view leadership as advocating for one’s beliefs and sharing power with others.

Learn More about the youth-led research program.

Curriculum Boosts Social-Emotional Development

Inspired to support girls’ limitless potential, UCLA’s Center for Scholars & Storytellers (CSS) evaluated The Barbie Dream Gap Project Curriculum hosted by YMCA Massachusetts. CSS found that the curriculum positively impacted students’ social-emotional development, deepened their understanding of subjects beyond traditional academic disciplines, and increased interest in STEM-related careers, especially for girls.

Learn More about The Barbie Dream Gap Project Curriculum.


Learn More about our partnership with Cardiff University’s study on The Benefits of Doll Play According to Neuroscience.


Welcome to The Barbie Dream Gap Project Curriculum, a multimedia experience created by UCLA’s Center for Scholars & Storytellers in partnership with Barbie. Developed for children ages 5 to 7, this curriculum is designed to help close the Dream Gap by inspiring their limitless potential to learn, work, and lead.


Originally piloted in classrooms in the El Segundo Unified School District in 2019, The Barbie Dream Gap Project Curriculum demonstrated promising results, including:

  • expanding kids’ interest in more careers
  • increasing all girls’ beliefs that anyone can be a good leader
  • inspiring more 2nd grade girls to identify females as “really, really smart” and to say YES to the question, “Do you think you can be anything?”

The Curriculum has since been optimized for online learning with a parent or guardian’s guidance at home; leveraging the latest research in developmental psychology and aligned to state standards in social and emotional learning (SEL). The six-lesson interactive experience is instructed by CSS Senior Fellow Dr. Laurel Felt, the original learning designer of The Barbie Dream Gap Project Curriculum and a scholar of children’s media, play, and learning.

Join us as we continue to inspire the next generation through this unique learning experience.


Tech Setup

Use a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Make sure your child knows how to interact with the mouse, trackpad, or touchscreen. Each lesson contains fun, engaging videos — for the best experience, ensure your audio is on (headphones recommended).

Review Materials

Each lesson comes with a customized, downloadable workbook that includes a kid-friendly activity sheet and parent/caregiver resources — available in English and Spanish.* Activity sheets aren’t required, but they help keep kids engaged. (Pro Tip: If printer access is limited, use a blank piece of paper or digital sketching tool.) 

*English and Spanish only available for parent/caregiver materials.

Additional Tips

During the interactive lessons, when Community Club members ask “Faraway Friend” to share, they’re speaking to your child. Encourage your young student to answer the question out loud. After each lesson is complete, use the conversation starters in the workbooks to extend and enrich the learning fun.

View Lessons

More Resources: Leadership Tool Kit