A move by Costa Rica's state bank to set up bank branches exclusively for women has backfired spectacularly, with critics dubbing the pink-bedecked outlets the 'Barbie Bank' for reinforcing gender stereotypes.
The first five Banca Kristal branches, staffed by women, opened for business Monday and represent a $10 million investment in the concept by the bank.
Each Kristal branch includes dedicated areas for breastfeeding and children’s play and comes equipped with a range of self-service touch screens. Products on offer are intended to appeal to female customers, with special sections dedicated to the home, beauty, motherhood, fashion, health and education.
The opening of the new branches has provoked a vehement response on social media, with critics particularly incensed by the deployment of a fairytale 'princess castle' at one branch to promote the brand.
The critical reaction is not confined solely to the social media community, with female politicians also sticking the boot in Speaking to La Nacion, Costa Rica vice president Ana Helena Chacon, commented: “I approve of all affirmative action that promotes women … the decor of the place is an issue that highlights stereotypes that must be overcome."
Monica Segnini, a BCR VP felt moved to offer an apology on Facebook to women who were offended by the launch.
Speaking to Costa Rica News, corporate relations manager Kattia Morales, defended the concept: “It is natural that the public react in this way, because it is a product that is not yet known and with which they are familiar.”