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New “role model” Barbies honour heroic women in war against COVID-19

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Over the years, Barbie has sported all sorts of looks and been ready for a wide range of action-packed activities. Today Mattel Inc has taken her one step further, creating a new range to represent the amazing women responsible for vital work during the pandemic.

Six incredible women from around the world have been immortalised by Barbie in order to recognise and support amazing achievements in their response to COVID-19 – and to show young girls everywhere that anything is possible.

“Barbie recognises that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened,” said Lisa McKnight, senior vice-president and global head of Barbie and dolls at Mattel. “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.”

Vaccinologist and vaccine developer Barbie

British vaccinologost and co-developer of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine Professor Sarah Gilbert was recently made a dame – and now to top it off, she has received another honour with Barbie being made in her image. “It’s a very strange concept to have a Barbie doll created in my likeness,” she said in an interview for Mattel. “I hope it will be part of making it more normal for girls to think about careers in science.”

The Barbie looks just like Professor Gilbert with her long wavy auburn hair, her oversized black glasses and her blue navy pantsuit with white blouse.

Doctor and surgical gown developer Barbie

Another incredible woman to be honoured by Barbie is Dr Kirby White, an Australian who co-created a line of surgical gowns that can be washed and re-used by front line workers during the pandemic. Dr White developed initiative Gowns for Doctors at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, then then raised more $40,000 through lobbying and fundraising to create thousands of much-needed gowns for GPs.

Outstanding role models

The four other honorees are US health care worker Dr Audrey Sue Cruz, emergency room nurse Amy O’Sullivan, Canadian doctor and advocate against systemic racism in healthcare Chicka Stacy Oriuwa, and Brazilian biomedical researcher Dr Jaqueline Goes de Jesus.

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Dr White has said that five dollars from every sale of an eligible nurse doctor or medical  doll sold in Australia will go to support Gowns for Doctors. “This donation from Barbie will mean many more doctors across Australia will be able to receive a box of re-usable protective gowns and many parents and children will be able to seek care from their doctor,” Dr White told Channel 7. Meanwhile Professor Gilbert has chosen WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) to receive Barbie donations; this non-profit organisation is dedicated to inspiring girls to think about a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

While these new Barbies will surely encourage young woman to pursue such careers, they will also hopefully draw attention to women who never saw any other option but to work tirelessly with extreme courage, passion and determination. “To be honest when I was a young girl, I never believed that I wouldn’t have a career in science,” commented Professor Gilbert.

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