Toy company Mattel has created a Barbie doll in honour of Oxford vaccine co-creator Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert.
Dame Sarah, who led development of the life-saving jab, said she initially found the gesture “very strange” but hoped it would inspire young girls to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem).
“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 said.
“My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist.”
As well as the likeness of Dame Sarah, the toy company has created models in honour of five other women working in Stem around the world.
They include 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 Dr Kirby White, an Australian medic who co-created a reusable gown for frontline staff.
The dolls are one-of-a-kind models that will not go on general sale.
Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie & dolls at Mattel, 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 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.”