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Wed 04 August 2021:

Barbie-maker Mattel Inc. has unveiled a doll of Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, the scientist behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

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).

Dame Sarah said she found the creation “very strange” at first – but she hoped it would inspire children.

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

Her Barbie is one of five to honour women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (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.”


The toy company has also made models in honor of five other women working in Stem around the world, in addition to Dame Sarah.

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.

Barbie has created dolls based on a number of women who have worked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.”

Sales of Barbie dolls rose to a six-year high last year, as the pandemic saw parents stock up on toys for their children.

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert holding the Barbie doll of herself (Image: PA)

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