Prof Sarah Gilbert has had quite a year. The co-creator of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab has been made a dame, been given an emotional standing ovation at Wimbledon – and now a Barbie doll has been made in her honour.
Gilbert, who led the development of the Covid vaccine at Oxford University, said she initially found the gesture “very strange” but hoped it would inspire young girls to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem).
“I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of girls into Stem careers and hope that children who see my Barbie will realise how vital careers in science are to help the world around us,” she said. “My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist.”
As well as the likeness of Dame Sarah, the toy company has created models in honour of five other women working in Stem around the world.
They include US healthcare workers Amy O’Sullivan and Dr Audrey Cruz, Canadian doctor and campaigner Dr Chika Stacy Oriuwa, Brazilian biomedical researcher Dr Jaqueline Goes de Jesus and Dr Kirby White, an Australian medic who co-created a reusable gown for frontline staff.
Lisa McKnight, senior vice-president and global head of Barbie and dolls at Mattel, said: “Barbie recognises that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened. To shine a light on their efforts, we are sharing their stories … to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and give back.”
Over the years, Mattel has made dolls to the likeness of stars including Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lopez and Cher, in celebration of their career milestones. Last month a Barbie doll modelled on tennis star Naomi Osaka sold out hours after its launch.