Can You Identify These Barbie Careers From the Past Four Decades?

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By: Bambi Turner

7 Min Quiz

Image: Barbie / Mattel

About This Quiz

She might come decked out in the latest fashions and have enough clothes to fill half a dozen dreamhouses, but Ms. Barbara Millicent Roberts is so much more than a style icon. In fact, this 11.5-inch doll with her trademark blonde locks has been a pioneer for women in the workplace, often taking jobs in male-dominated fields to prove to girls that any profession is possible, regardless of their gender. 

Of course, the same is true of her creator, Ruth Handler. After noting that her daughters had only baby dolls to play with, which forced them into traditional female caretaker roles, Handler invented Barbie dolls to give girls more open-ended play options. With Handler's creation, girls could not only play mommy, but they could also have dreamed-up play scenarios with the doll acting as a teacher, business leader, astronaut and so much more. Parents went wild for the doll upon its 1959 introduction, and Handler sold 350,000 that first year, with Mattel going on to sell over 1 billion since then.

With over 200 jobs on her resume, Barbie has more than shattered the glass ceiling. But how many of these careers can you name? Prove your Barbie career IQ with this quiz ... oh, and that's Dr. Barbie to you!

Barbie hit the campaign trail for the first time in 1992. What was she running for?

Barbie wore a fabulous red and blue dress when running for President in 1992. Hoping to attract more voters, the 2004 version of Presidential Candidate Barbie sported a crisp red pants suit. By 2016, Mattel was aiming for an all-female ticket, releasing a pair of dolls running together for President and VP.

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Women in the workplace might seem like a modern trend, but the very first Barbie had a career. Do you know what it was?

Debuting in 1959, the original Barbie was a teen fashion model and came in either blonde or brunette to appeal to girls with a wider range of hair color. She came complete with cat's eye shades, a black and white striped swimsuit and fab makeup befitting a top teen model. Ken made his debut in 1961 as Barbie's boyfriend.

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You have the right to remain fabulous, at least according to this Barbie. Name this job Barbie pursued for the first time in 1993.

Clad in a sharp blue uniform, Barbie made the promise to protect and serve when Mattel released the first police officer Barbie in 1993. At the time, women were an increasing presence on the force. Around 10% of police officers in the U.S. were female in 1990, up from just 5% in 1980.

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Only 2 percent of people in this profession were women in 1973 when Barbie entered the field. Do you know what it is?

Barbie became a surgeon a full 15 years before Doctor Barbie was released! Sporting light blue scrubs and an eye-poppingly short skirt for a medical pro, surgeon Barbie was released in 1973 at a time when just 2 percent of U.S. surgeons were female.

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She could star in "Swan Lake" or "The Nutcracker" in this career. What was this Barbie's profession?

The first ballerina Barbie came out in 1961. The doll sported a silver lame and white tulle costume with black tights and leotard for practice sessions. A 2006 version of the ballerina was much more vibrant in her sparkly pink tutu and toe shoes.

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Barbie followed in the footsteps of trailblazer Elizabeth Blackwell when she took this job in 1988.

It was 1849 when a woman named Elizabeth Blackwell became the first female medical school grad. By the time Barbie became Dr. Barbie in 1988, around 17 percent of U.S. physicians were female. Barbie switched to pediatrics in 1994, and a second "Baby Doctor" Barbie came out in 2008. It turns out Barbie can even make a white coat look good.

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Four years before Neil Armstrong did it, Barbie did it first in 1965. Which career was this?

Space exploration fascinated the public in the '60s, and little girls were no exception. Mattel responded by releasing astronaut Barbie in 1965, four years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin managed the first successful moon mission. Barbie tried out the astronaut suit again in 1986, and even became a space camp instructor as Mattel partnered with NASA to release a doll in 1998.

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Jane Fonda helped make this job trendy in the '80s, so Barbie jumped on board in 1984. Can you name the career Barbie's pursuing in this picture?

Everyone jumped on board the aerobics trend in the '80s. When aerobics instructor Barbie came out in 1984, the doll sported a teal outfit complete with sweatband and legwarmers. When a similarly styled "I Can Be A Yoga Teacher" Barbie was released in 2009, it came with, inexplicably, a chihuahua. Legwarmers might have been a better bet, despite being decades out of style.

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They're called flight attendants these days, but they had a different name when this Barbie was released in 1961. Can you name this profession?

Before airplanes were staffed equally by men and women, it was up to the ladies to maintain order and serve cocktails and peanuts. Barbie made a stylish stewardess in 1961, a career she pursued with Pan Am in 1966 and with United in the '70s, sporting their trademark navy uniforms.

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Barbie hit the boardroom in 1963, proving women can shatter that glass ceiling. Name this career.

With this stylish gray tweed suit and matching hat, Barbie was ready to dominate the business world as a successful executive. A modern take released in 1985 as Day to Night Barbie found the doll sporting a modern '80s suit in bright pink, plus a sleek purse and cell phone for conducting business on the go.

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Barbie decided to put her passion for animals to work by pursuing this career. Do you know which one it is?

The first veterinarian Barbie was released in 1985. The doll paired her crisp white coat with a pair of fun polka dot pink pants and came with a cat and dog to care for. By 2008, zoo doctor Barbie had expanded her practice to also care for critters like lions and monkeys.

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Perhaps inspired by Joan Jett or Stevie Nicks, what line of work did Barbie get into in the '80s?

A 1961 Barbie styled as a lounge singer wore a long black cocktail gown. By 1986, she switched to rock with the release of Barbie and the Rockers. The doll had hip new wave styling complete with pink and purple hair. Mattel followed this up with a rapper Barbie in 1992, and a 2005 release wore Boho clothes on her path to victory on "American Idol."

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Barbie was all ready to keep up with Nadia Comaneci or Dorothy Hamill when she chose this career. Do you know what it is?

The first Olympian Barbie came out in 1975, just in time for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. That was the year Romania's Nadia Comaneci wowed the world by scoring the first perfect 10 in gymnastics. Little girls everywhere dreamed of gold while playing with this Barbie, who came clad in a red, white and blue leotard.

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Barbie was all about the three 'R's when she got this job in 1965. Do you think you can name it?

Not quite ready to take charge of the class on her own, Barbie was relegated to a student teacher role with this 1965 Mattel release. She sported a tween pink skirt paired with a demure matching top. The '90s saw a teacher Barbie that came with a pair of students, while an art teacher and sign language instructor doll followed over the next few decades.

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Kids could dream up a quiche or souffle while playing with this 1996 Mattel release. What career was this Barbie built for?

You have to give Mattel credit; they fought the whole housewife stereotype and waited all the way until the '90s to release a Barbie with a career in the culinary arts. By 2008, Barbie was such a great chef that she got her own cooking show. This version of the doll came with a kitchen designed to fit on a TV set, plus a camera and stage lights to show off the doll's good side.

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Even when she struck out, she looked fabulous with her foray into this career. Do you think you know what it is?

Mattel sent Barbie to the big leagues in 1998 with the release of MLB-themed dolls. The dolls sported uniforms inspired by those of teams like the Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers, and they were ready to step up to the plate and hit one for the home team.

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Barbie could lead snorkeling expeditions or explore reefs with the career shown here, which she entered in 1993. Pick the name of this profession.

The release of Swim 'n Dive Barbie in 1993 opened up all kinds of new jobs for the doll. Complete with goggles, air tanks, fins and a slick pink suit, Barbie was all ready to explorer the world under the seas.

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Taking a cue from Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff, what job did Barbie take on beginning in 1995?

"Baywatch" was one of the most popular shows around the globe in the '90s, so a partnership with Mattel was a natural fit. The result was not only a lifeguard Barbie, which came with a jetski and a dolphin, but also a whole line of Rescue Station toys and playsets for the doll and her friends.

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The movie "Backdraft" was a huge hit in 1991. Perhaps that's what drove Barbie toward this career, which she entered in 1995. Do you know what it is?

Barbie decided to make the local firehouse her second home in 1995 when she joined the squad as a firefighter. The doll put fashion second in protective gear which included a yellow suit and hat, as well as a badge and walkie talkie to help her get the job done.

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Do you know which career Barbie chose in 1997, shortly after she apparently found time to earn her DDS?

A successful spell in dental school earned Barbie her DDS, so Mattel released dentist Barbie in 1997. The doll came with a chair and a patient, and sported sound effects like "Let's brush" and "Great checkup!"

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What passion drove Barbie to Olympic glory in this 1996 release, which came out in conjunction with the Atlanta Olympics?

In between working as a doctor, astronaut and other professions, Barbie found time to train with some of the best gymnastics coaches. An Atlanta Olympics Gymnast Barbie released in 1996 featured red, white and blue leggings as she represented her country. The doll moved on to coach the sport with the 2016 released of Flippin' Fun Gymnast Barbie.

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Mattel encourages girls to pursue STEM careers, including this 2010 profession that the company picked as its Barbie Career of the Year. What is it?

At a time when girls account for only 24 percent of people in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers. Mattel released computer engineer Barbie in 2010. Other STEM jobs for Barbie have included architecture and robotics ... so far!

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Barbie became a colleague of Ross Geller from "Friends" when she joined this dinosaur-hunting profession in the '90s. Can you ID it?

Turns out out favorite dreamhouse-dwelling model has always been fascinated with dinosaurs! She became a paleontologist with the 1997 Barbie Career Collection. A second foray into the field came in 2012 with "I Can Be a Paleontologist," a partnership between Mattel and the Smithsonian.

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Start your engines! What job did Barbie take on in 1998 with the doll shown in this image?

As part of NASCAR's 50th anniversary in 1998, they partnered with Mattel for the release of NASCAR Barbie. The doll featured a blue racing suit, which was changed to Ferrari red in 2000 with the introduction of Formula One Barbie.

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A flight attendant since the '60s, Barbie took things to the next level with this high-flying career beginning in 1999. Name this job!

After years of serving drinks and pointing out emergency exits, Barbie decided it was time to steer the ship — or the plane — herself! Mattel released the first pilot Barbie in 1999, complete with a sharp blue uniform, a rolling suitcase designed to fit in the overhead bins, and a passport to allow the doll to clear customs.

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Like Michelle Kwan or Tara Lipinski, Barbie was a legend in the sports world. Can you guess what profession is shown here?

Figure skating was huge in the '90s, largely thanks to the Tonya Harding scandal. Prior to the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Mattel released a figure skating champion Barbie who was just ready to land that triple axel!

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Barbie spent several years as a veterinarian, but she was ready to find a new niche with this 2012 release. In what career was this Barbie designed to excel?

Arctic rescuer Barbie came out in 2012, and featured plenty of gear to help the doll save animals in extreme conditions. In addition to a pink snowmobile, the doll came with a baby seal and polar bear cub to care for.

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For what job was this Anne Geddes-inspired Barbie born?

Anyone can snap pictures, but it takes a pro to really take good photos of newborns. Barbie was ready to take on the challenge in 2007 with the release of baby photographer Barbie, who came with three cute babies for the doll to capture on film. A 2019 partnership with National Geographic saw the release of photojournalist Barbie, who by then was ready to snap subjects more serious than babies.

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Girls inspired by Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes were the perfect customers for this 1998 toy. For what career was this Barbie built?

Who says women can't dunk? Barbie proved them wrong in 1998 when Mattel released WNBA Barbie, which came complete with a hoop and ball as well as a red, white and blue uniform.

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Chanel, Dior ... Barbie? It's possible, thanks to the doll's entry into this career field in 2012. Do you know what it is?

It's pretty obvious that Barbie knows everything about the fashion world. After starting as a teen model, she became a fashion editor in 1960 and even a junior designer in '67. It wasn't until 2012 that the doll took on a top role in the industry, becoming a fashion designer with the release of the "I Can Be" series.

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A prominent picture of Mia Hamm appeared on the box of this 1999 Mattel release. What career is this Barbie designed to dominate?

The first World Cup champion soccer player Barbie came out in 1999. The box included a ball and goal so girls could help the doll rack up points. In 2008, Mattel came out with soccer coach Barbie, showing girls that there was life beyond a playing career for soccer lovers.

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Wimbledon champ? It was possible with the introduction of this Barbie. What was her profession?

Barbie has been encouraging girls to get active from the very beginning, starting with a tennis player Barbie that came out in 1962. The company later came out with the "I Can Be" Olympic tennis champ version of the doll, which came with a bright pink trophy.

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Even Barbie is ready to serve her country! What job did she take on in this 1989 release?

Barbie became an Army officer in 1989, and Mattel even released a special Desert Storm edition of the doll in 1992. By 1993, Barbie had become an Army Medic, though she switched to the Air Force later that year to become a pilot.

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What glam career did Barbie enter in 1977 while wearing a fab pink gown and feather boa?

It's only natural for successful models to want to try their hand at acting, which Barbie did with the release of Movie Star Barbie in 1977. An Old Hollywood version came out in 2001, but what Barbie really wants to do is direct. She got her chance in 2015 when Mattel came out with a film director version of the doll.

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Kids who idolize Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer might like this 2010 Barbie, but can you guess her career of choice?

In 2010, Barbie became a news anchor, which was a step up from her 1985 turn as a roving TV reporter. The 2010 release was part of the "I Can Be" line and included a stylish pink suit and news desk for Barbie to work from.

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Semper Fi! It's a motto Barbie knows well thanks to a 1991 release, which had the doll following in the 1918 footsteps of a woman named Opha May Johnson. What was her career?

Barbie became one of the few and the proud when she became a Marine in 1991. The doll sported a classic black uniform and white cap, plus plenty of medals and pins to show her rank.

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What is this career that Barbie got a chance to try out during a Mattel/Sea World partnership in the 2010s?

Barbie became a dolphin trainer in 2012 when Mattel released a doll that came with a dolphin, training fish and a pink hoop for doing tricks. The partnership was short-lived due to the "Blackfish" documentary, and the line was discontinued in 2015, leaving Barbie to find a new job.

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This 1975 Barbie could take on Lindsey Vonn. Can you guess her job?

Mattel released the first ski champ Barbie in 1975. The doll sported a red and blue outfit, hot yellow skis and a gold medal (of course!). Years later, the "Made to Move" line made it easier for girls to show off Barbie's downhill skills thanks to the doll's flexible joints and increased range of motion.

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