Sarah Gilbert with Sarah-Gilbert-Barbie: Doll should show children professions like vaccinologist
Photo: Andy Paradise / Mattel / AP
When it comes to Barbies, the toy company Mattel has been accused for decades of reproducing a questionable ideal of beauty: wasp waist, long legs and blonde hair.
For some time now, the company has been trying to counteract this reputation: with dolls that are gender neutral, have wider hips, or wear a hijab.
What is comparatively new, however, is that the company also wants to benefit from the inner values of the doll model - and has now also designed a Barbie that is based on a famous vaccine developer.
According to Mattel, the Barbie doll in honor of the co-developer of the AstraZeneca corona vaccine, Sarah Gilbert, is supposed to inspire the "next generation" of women scientists.
The Sarah Gilbert Barbie has long red hair and wears glasses and a black trouser suit.
Can such a doll get girls excited about science?
Gilbert, who is a professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, finds the award "very strange." The Briton hopes that Barbie will help children understand "how important careers in science are to help the world around us," said the 59-year-old. It is her wish "that my doll shows children professions that they may not yet know about - like vaccinologist," said Gilbert.
Gilbert has been a researcher at Oxford University since 1994 and led the development team behind the AstraZeneca vaccine. Right from the start, the team set itself the goal of developing a product that is inexpensive and easy to transport. However, the AstraZeneca vaccine is increasingly losing its importance in the western world - Germany, for example, is now increasingly relying on mRNA vaccines from competitors such as Biontech / Pfizer or Moderna.
In addition to Gilbert, Mattel has created five other Barbies to honor the achievements of women in the corona pandemic: The US nurse Amy O'Sullivan, the US doctor Audrey Cruz, the Canadian activist Chika Stacy Oriuwa, the Brazilian researcher Jaqueline Goes de Jesus and the Australian doctor Kirby White should become role models for little girls.
Mattel used the Barbie brand to recognize the achievements of these women, tell their stories and inspire "the next generation" to "emulate these heroines," said Mattel Vice President Lisa McKnight.
"Our hope is to encourage and stimulate children's imaginations to play their own heroine stories."
For decades, however, the Barbie dolls have also promised Mattel substantial profits.
The toy company was also able to expand its business vigorously during the corona crisis.
apr / AFP