Russian officials are celebrating the Moscow metro’s first women train drivers — by releasing a special edition Barbie doll to mark the historic occasion.
Available in official metro souvenir shops, the slim plastic doll is packaged in a box emblazoned with the slogan: “you can be anything you want to be.”
Twelve women began work as metro train drivers on 3 January after Russian laws which barred women from certain positions were changed in 2019, reducing the list of men-only jobs from 456 to 100. Women had initially been allowed to drive metro trains on the network from 1936, but a ban on hiring new female drivers came into place in the 1980s.
The legislation initially claimed that being underground for long periods of time could be harmful to women’s health, although women were still brought into work as cleaners, cashiers, and escalator monitors. When the Moscow transport department finally scrapped the ban, it claimed that automation meant that driving trains no longer required “heavy physical exertion”.
As well as having a Barbie released in their honour, female train drivers will also have the privilege of wearing a skirt or trousers. The uniforms were developed “taking into account the wishes of both current employees, the experience of male train drivers, and the opinions of female candidates.”
The new legislation will see Russian women allowed to work in other previously deemed “dangerous” professions, such as bus drivers, sailors, parachutists, auto mechanics, and the makers of wind instruments. Whether similar themed Barbie dolls will be released for such positions is yet to be announced.