Barbie maker Mattel has created a doll in honour of Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, the scientist who designed the Oxford-Astrazeneca Covid vaccine.
After a standing ovation at Wimbledon and being made a dame, Gilbert now has the Barbie doll to recognise her efforts in creating a life-saving jab.
The vaccinologist said she initially found the gesture ‘very strange’ but hopes it will inspire young girls to start a career in STEM subjects.
“My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist,” she said.
She added, “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.”
Gilbert was the lead on creating the Oxford-Astrazeneca jab which has become the world’s most used vaccine and has been distributed to over 170 countries.
Barbie’s senior vice-president and global head of dolls at Mattel Lisa McKnight 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 and leveraging Barbie’s platform to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and give back.”
Dame Sarah’s doll is one of five inspirational females in Stem around the world that Mattel has created.
Previous dolls include Brazilian biomedical researcher Dr Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, Australian medic Dr Kirby White who co-created a reusable gown for frontline staff, and US healthcare workers Amy O’Sullivan and Dr Audrey Cruz.
In recent years Mattel was criticised for displaying unrealistic expectations of women. The firm have since released Barbie dolls themed around powerful and inspiring careers, such as firefighters and doctors, as well as inclusive dolls such as wheelchair-user and hijab-wearing Barbies.