Barbie presents Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert with a one-of-a-kind doll in her likeness

The Professor of Vaccinology is named a 2021 Role Model as brand celebrates women in STEM’s achievements during the pandemic

  • This summer, the Barbie Role Models programme is focusing on those who have made an impact in their communities and globally during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • As well as Prof Gilbert, Barbie is honouring five other women in STEM around the world who are modern real-life heroes of the pandemic

Mattel, Inc has honoured Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert as a ‘Barbie Role Model’ for her work on the Oxford vaccine. Prof 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 Prof 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 endless possibilities in the field.   

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert says“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.”

With WISE analysis highlighting there 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 today recognising Prof 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. The all-female line-up are experts in their field who have shown unprecedented courage and tenacity against the virus and achieved greatness in their chosen careers.

“We know the pandemic has been felt directly by children across the globe,” said Lisa McKnight, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel. “As the number one doll brand, we take great pride in leveraging Barbie’s platform to teach children about role models who are making a positive impact in our world, especially those who rose to the occasion during this challenging time. Our hope is to nurture and ignite the imaginations of children playing out their own storyline as heroes.”

The global lineup 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 U.K.
  • 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. O’Sullivan 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) – As 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.

As a brand that inspires the limitless potential in every girl, Barbie is dedicated to honouring female role models from around the world. Barbie has highlighted the boundary-breaking stories of more than 60 historical and modern-day role models from diverse backgrounds and fields to help inspire the next generation to believe they can be anything.

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.

*Source: WISE 2020.

About Mattel

Mattel is a leading global toy company and owner of one of the strongest catalogs of children’s and family entertainment franchises in the world. We create innovative products and experiences that inspire, entertain and develop children through play. We engage consumers through our portfolio of iconic brands, including Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Fisher-Price®, American Girl®, Thomas & Friends®, UNO® and MEGA®, as well as other popular intellectual properties that we own or license in partnership with global entertainment companies. Our offerings include film and television content, gaming, music and live events. We operate in 35 locations and our products are available in more than 150 countries in collaboration with the world’s leading retail and ecommerce companies. Since its founding in 1945, Mattel is proud to be a trusted partner in empowering children to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential.

About Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert

Sarah Gilbert is the Said Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford. She works on vaccines for many different emerging pathogens, including influenza, Nipah, MERS, Lassa, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, and in 2020, she initiated the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine project. Working with Oxford colleagues she is able to take novel vaccines from design to clinical development, with a particular interest in the rapid transfer of vaccines into manufacturing and first in human trials. She is the Oxford 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 June 2021, Prof Gilbert was received a damehood for services to science and public health in the Queen’s birthday honours.

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