British coronavirus vaccine developer Sarah Gilbert has many science accolades to her credit – and now she shares an honour with Julie Bishop, Beyonce, Marilyn Monroe and even Eleanor Roosevelt.
Professor 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 modelled after them.
Toy maker Mattel is recognising them with a line of Barbie “role model” dolls.
Professor 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,” Professor 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.”
Also 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, a 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.
The last doll honours Kirby White, an Australian doctor who pioneered a surgical gown that could be washed and reused by frontline workers during the pandemic.
Dr White joins Ms Bishop as Australian women chosen by Mattel for the role models range this year. Ms Bishop’s doll, wearing the blue Armani suit and red shoes the former foreign minister wore on the day she resigned – was unveiled in June.
“I was genuinely thrilled to see a Barbie in my likeness, particularly as she was dressed in the outfit I wore when a resigned as Australia’s foreign minister, a political role that I was honoured to hold,” Ms Bishop said.
Professor Gilbert chose nonprofit organisation WISE (Women in Science & Engineering), dedicated to inspiring girls to consider a career in STEM, to receive a financial donation from the toy maker for her doll.
Professor Gilbert has been feted for work this year, with the AstraZeneca shot used widely around the world. In June, she and other workers from Britain’s National Health Service received a standing ovation from the Wimbledon crowd.