LONDON — British coronavirus vaccine developer Sarah Gilbert has many science accolades to her credit but now shares an honor with Beyonce, Marilyn Monroe and Eleanor Roosevelt: a Barbie doll in her likeness.
Gilbert, a 59-year-old professor at Oxford University and co-developer of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, is one of six women in the COVID-19 fight who have new Barbies modeled after them.
Toy maker Mattel Inc is recognizing them with a line of Barbie “role model” dolls.
Gilbert’s Barbie shares her long auburn hair and oversized black glasses, and she wears a sensible navy blue pantsuit and white blouse.
“It’s a very strange concept having a Barbie doll created in my likeness,” Gilbert 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.”
Among the honorees are emergency room nurse Amy O’Sullivan who treated the first COVID-19 patient at the Wycoff Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, and Audrey Cruz, frontline doctor in Las Vegas who fought discrimination, according to Mattel.
Other dolls include Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a Canadian psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto who battled systemic racism in healthcare, and Brazilian biomedical researcher Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, who led sequencing of the genome of a COVID-19 variant in Brazil, the company said.
Lastly, a doll honors Kirby White, an Australian doctor who pioneered a surgical gown that can be washed and reused by frontline workers during the pandemic.
Gilbert chose non-profit organization WISE (Women in Science & Engineering), dedicated to inspiring girls to consider a career in STEM, to receive a financial donation from the toy maker.
— Reporting by Lisa Giles-Keddie; Editing by Cynthia Osterman