The COVID-19 pandemic has been a global challenge, seeing every country unite to curb the spread and find a cure. And Professor Sarah Gilbert, the co-creator of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has not only been bestowed with the title of Dame, but has also been publicly acknowledged with an emotional standing ovation at Wimbledon—she has been among those frontline workers that has had quite a year. Now, Gilbert is being revered yet again, this time by toy manufacturers, Mattel. The company has recently come out with the Sarah Gilbert Barbie doll, to honour her tremendous contribution to the COVID efforts.
Gilbert has acknowledged the honour, but has admitted to initially finding the gesture “very strange”. However, she hopes this will inspire young girls to work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
In a statement to the media, she 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.”
As part of the Role Model collection, along with Dame Gilbert, the company has honoured four other women working in STEM from across the globe. They are 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 Australian medic Dr Kirby White, who co-created a reusable gown for frontline staff.
Senior vice-president and global head of Barbie and dolls at Mattel, Lisa McKnight, in a statement, 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.”