Beyond battling the pandemic, these women of science have been helping solve racial and gender discrimination in the healthcare industry.
Female frontliners have been making strides in providing a solution for the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they will have more than just their accolades to help them inspire young women to pursue the same career path as theirs: a new line of Barbie dolls in their image.
On Wednesday, Mattel unveiled its latest line of brainy Barbie dolls which feature six women of science who have contributed significantly to the world’s fight against COVID-19.
Leading the pack is a doll made after British vaccinologist Sarah Gilbert, the Oxford University professor who helped lead the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Sharing her long auburn hair and her black oversized glasses, Gilbert’s miniaturized version seems “strange” to the vaccinologist, but she is hopeful of the doll’s positive impact on young women.
“It’s a very strange concept having a Barbie doll created in my likeness,” Gilbert said in an interview for Mattel per The Guardian.“I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of girls into STEM careers and hope that children who see my Barbie will realize 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.”
“Barbie recognizes that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened,” Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls at Mattel, said in a statement. “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.”
Other role models in the medical field that Mattel made into Barbie dolls are emergency room nurse Amy O’Sullivan, Audrey Sue Cruz, Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa, Dr. Kirby White, and Dr. Jacqueline Goes De Jesus.
O’Sullivan is widely known as the nurse who treated the first COVID-19 patient in Brooklyn, New York and contracted the virus herself. She needed to be hospitalized and intubated, but would soon recover and return to work to continue helping other patients.
Cruz, a frontline worker from Nevada, joined forces with other Asian-American doctors to fight racial bias and discrimination during the pandemic.
Dr. Oriuwa, who is also a spoken word poet, has advocated against systemic racism in healthcare, a problem that’s become more prevalent since the onset of the pandemic.
Dr. Goes De Jesus is a biomedical researcher credited for leading the sequencing of the genome of a COVID-19 variant in Brazil.
And Lastly, Dr. White, an Australian doctor based in Victoria, pioneered Gowns for Doctors, an initiative behind surgical gowns that can be washed and reused by frontline workers during the pandemic.
The toymaker has no plans to release the one-of-a-kind dolls to stores. Nonetheless, Mattel’s “Role Models” collection also has dolls made after medical and STEM careers, including an astrophysicist, an entomologist, and a polar marine biologist.