The scientist who designed the AstraZeneca vaccine is getting her own Barbie doll

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Lauren Geall
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Professor Sarah Gilbert is one of six women to be honoured with a Barbie doll in their image as part of Mattel’s new range.

As one of the women responsible for designing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Professor Sarah Gilbert has received a lot of attention over the last two years. From being made a Dame to receiving a standing ovation at Wimbledon, her lifesaving work has been recognised in numerous ways.

And now, she’s being honoured again – as one of six women working in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) to be made into a new range of Barbie dolls.

The doll, which has been launched as part of Mattel’s #ThankYouHeroes campaign, depicts Dame Sarah wearing a black trouser suit with a white shirt and glasses.

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Reflecting on the honour, Dame Sarah admitted that, while she found the creation “very strange” at first, she hoped that it would inspire children to consider careers “they may not be aware of,” like a vaccinologist.

“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 explained.

The other women being honoured with their own doll are Dr Kirby White, a GP from Australia who developed a PPE gown that could be laundered and re-used; Dr Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a Canadian psychiatrist who has advocated against systemic racism in healthcare; Amy O’Sullivan, the nurse who treated the first Covid-19 patient in Brooklyn; Dr Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, a Brazilian biomedical researcher who led the genome sequencing of a Covid-19 variant in Brazil; and Dr Audrey Sue Cruz, a US frontline worker who joined forces with other Asian-American doctors to fight racial bias and discrimination.  

Speaking about the new dolls, Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls at Mattel, said she hoped they would “ignite the imaginations” of the children who played with them.

“Barbie recognises that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened,” she said. “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.” 

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This isn’t the first time Barbie have used their dolls in order to encourage girls into Stem careers – in the past, they’ve released astronaut, pilot and engineer dolls.

This also isn’t the first time they’ve created dolls modelled after inspiring women – Team GB sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, boxing champion Nicola Adams OBE and BBC Radio One DJ Clara Amfo have all been made into Barbie dolls over the last couple of years, alongside historic figures such as Rosa Parks and Florence Nightingale. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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