Mattel welcomes Oxford Vaccine professor Dame Sarah Gilbert to its Barbie Role Model line-up

Vaccinologist and a member of the team behind the development of the Oxford vaccine, Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert has been welcomed into the ranks of Barbie Role Model by Mattel, who has honoured the scientist with the production of a Barbie in her own likeness.

Professor Gilbert is the Saϊd Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford and Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 which is now in use in many countries around the world.

In recognition of her achievements, Mattel has not only produced a Barbie in her own likeness to be a part of the Barbie Role Model line-up, but is to make a donation to Professor Gilbert’s chosen STEM-focused organisation, WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) in the UK. The organisation supports the outreach resource, My Skills My Life; created to inspire girls to consider a career in STEM.

The programme allows girls to explore personality types and matches them with relatable role models who have rewarding and successful careers in STEM, ultimately, opening eyes and minds to the endless possibilities in STEM.

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert said: “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. My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a Vaccinologist.”

WISE analysis highlights that just 24 per cent of the STEM roles across the UK are taken up by women and highlights the wide recognition that women are underrepresented globally in STEM fields.

The Barbie brand has detailed its own commitment to the cause, recognising Professor Gilber among five other STEM and healthcare professionals around the world who have worked tirelessly in the fight against Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

The all-female line-up are experts in their fields, who have shown unprecedented courage and tenacity against the virus and achieved greatness in their chosen careers.

“Barbie recognises that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened,” said Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls, Mattel.

“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. Our hope is to nurture and ignite the imaginations of children playing out their own storyline as heroes.”

Professor Gilbert leads the line up that also features Amy O’Sullivan, RN (US), an emergency room nurse who treated the first Covid-19 patient at the Wycoff Hospital in Brooklyn, Dr Audey Cruz (US), a frontline worker from Las Vegas who joined forces with other Asian-American physicians to fight racial bias and discrimination, and Dr Chika Stacy Oriuwa (Canada), a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto, Canada, who advocated against systemic racism in healthcare.

The line is made complete with Brazil’s Dr Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, a biomedical researcher credited for leading the sequencing of the genome of a Covid-19 variant in Brazil, and Australia’s Dr Kirby White, a general practitioner who co-founded Gowns for Doctors, a gown that could be laundered and re-used, allowing frontline workers to continue seeing patients during the pandemic.

In the UK, previous Role Models recipients include Broadcaster Clara Amfo, Fastest Woman in British History, Dina Asher-Smith, Champion Skateboarder Sky Brown, Activist & Model Adwoa Aboah, and Boxer Nicola Adams.