This summer’s Barbie Role Models program focuses on those who made an impact in their communities and globally during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barbie created a doll of one of the scientists who helped create the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in hopes of inspiring girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert became a “Barbie Role Model” for her work at Oxford University and for her role as project leader for the COVID-19 vaccine, which is now used in many countries around the world.
Professor Gilbert said: “I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of girls to pursue STEM careers and hope that the children who see my Barbie will understand how vital a career in science is to helping the world around us.
“I want my doll to show kids professions that they may not know about, such as a vaccinologist.”
Along with Professor Gilbert, Barbie honors five other women who worked during the pandemic.
- Emergency room nurse Amy O’Sullivan, who treated the first patient with COVID-19 at Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.
- Dr. Audrey Cruz, a front-line worker from Las Vegas who joined forces with other Asian-American physicians to fight racial prejudice and discrimination.
- Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto, Canada, who has spoken out against systemic racism in health care.
- Biomedical researcher Dr. Jacqueline Goes de Jesús, who is credited with leading the COVID-19 variant genome sequencing in Brazil.
- Dr. Kirby Whitby, who co-founded the “Gowns for Doctors” project – gowns that can be washed and reused.
Barbie is also donating to Professor Gilbert’s chosen organization, Women in Science and Engineering, which runs an outreach resource created to inspire girls to choose STEM careers.
Previous Barbie role models in the U.K. include TV host Clara Amfo, the fastest woman in British history Dina Asher-Smith, skateboarding champion Skye Brown, model and activist Adwoa Aboa and boxer Nicola Adams.