Can Vaccinologist Barbie Inspire the Next Generation of Girls Into Science?

Professor Gilbert initially found gesture ‘very strange’ but hopes it inspires young girls.

Barbie producer Mattel has created a doll in the likeness of the scientist who designed the Oxford coronavirus vaccine: Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert.

The one-of-a-kind doll is dressed in a blue trouser suit, white blouse, black glasses, and black shoes.

“I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of girls into Stem careers and hope that children who see my Barbie will realize how vital careers in science are to help the world around us,” she said to Irish Times

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert has been honored as a ‘Barbie Role Model’ for her work at the University of Oxford and for her role as project leader in the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine which is now in use in many countries around the world.

My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist.

Along with Prof Gilbert, Barbie is also honoring five other women who have worked during the pandemic.

To shine a light on their efforts, we are sharing their stories and leveraging Barbie’s platform to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and give back.
Barbie & dolls at Mattel

Barbie has showcased more than 200 diverse careers over the decades.

Among the honorees is emergency room nurse Amy O’Sullivan who treated the first COVID-19 patient, Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a Canadian psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto who battled systemic racism in healthcare, Brazilian biomedical researcher Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, who led the sequencing of the genome of a COVID-19 variant in Brazil, and Kirby White, an Australian doctor who pioneered a surgical gown that can be washed and reused by frontline workers during the pandemic.

Now Barbie doll offers dolls themed around careers such as a firefighter, doctor, and astronaut – and in a range of skin tones beyond its original white, blonde doll that first launched in 1959.

Dame Sarah Catherine Gilbert DBE is a British vaccinologist who is Saïd Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford and co-founder of Vaccitech. Gilbert specializes in the development of vaccines against influenza and emerging viral pathogens.

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