Barbie honours vaccinologist Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert with one-of-a-kind doll

Published on: 4th August 2021

As well as Professor Gilbert, Barbie is honouring five other women in STEM around the world who it says are ‘modern real-life heroes of the pandemic’. 

Mattel has announced that Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert has been honoured as a ‘Barbie Role Model’ for her work creating the Oxford vaccine. 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.

Barbie is also making a donation to Professor Gilbert’s chosen STEM-focused organisation WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) in the UK to support My Skills My Life, an outreach resource created to inspire girls to consider a career in STEM. It 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 to take up 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.”

With WISE analysis highlighting there are only 24% of women in core STEM roles across the UK, and wide recognition that women are underrepresented globally in STEM fields, Barbie is committed to demonstrating the value of STEM careers to girls. As part of this commitment, Barbie is recognising Professor Gilbert and five other STEM and healthcare professionals around the world who have worked tirelessly in the fight against Covid-19 since the pandemic began. Each of the women in 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 & 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.”

The global line-up of women honoured with a one-of-a-kind doll includes:

  • Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert (United Kingdom) – As a Saϊd Professor of Vaccinology, Professor Gilbert led the development of the University of Oxford vaccine in the UK.
  • Amy O’Sullivan, RN (United States) – Emergency Room nurse Amy O’Sullivan treated the first Covid-19 patient at the Wycoff Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Amy later contracted the disease, and soon after returned to work to continue to help others.
  • Dr. Audery Cruz (United States) – Dr. Cruz, a frontline worker from Las Vegas, NV, during the pandemic, joined forces with other Asian-American physicians to fight racial bias and discrimination.
  • Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa (Canada)- A psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto, Canada, Dr. Oriuwa has advocated against systemic racism in healthcare, which has been further highlighted by the pandemic.
  • Dr. Jaqueline Goes de Jesus (Brazil) – As a biomedical researcher, Dr. Goes is credited for leading the sequencing of the genome of a Covid-19 variant in Brazil.
  • Dr. Kirby White (Australia) – A general practitioner in Australia, Dr. White co-founded Gowns for Doctors, a gown that could be laundered and re-used, allowing frontline workers in Victoria, AU, to continue seeing patients during the pandemic.


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