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Mattel's Barbie Role Models series, designed to inspire young girls to pursue their dreams, has highlighted the work of many incredible women. On August 4, 2021, the US toymaker revealed the latest additions to the collection — custom, one-of-a-kind dolls modeled after six female COVID-19 frontline workers.
The honorees, who come from different backgrounds and countries, have a few things in common. They have shown unprecedented courage and tenacity against the virus; and they have achieved success in their chosen careers.
Amy O’Sullivan is an emergency room nurse at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. She treated Brooklyn's first COVID-19 patient, survived a deadly bout of the virus herself, and then returned to care for others.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford in England has been battling the pandemic from behind the scenes. Ms. Gilbert helped develop the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which has helped save the lives of millions of people worldwide.
Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto, was honored for her efforts to raise awareness of systemic racism in the healthcare system. Oriuwa was the only black person in a class of 259 students at the University of Toronto’s medical school. She was also the first black woman to be chosen as sole valedictorian for a graduating class.
Dr. Audrey Sue Cruz is the perfect role model for any young girl aspiring to have a STEM career. The 31-year-old obtained a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering before switching to medical school. Sue Cruz has been on the front lines in both hospitals and clinics during the pandemic. She has also led the effort to fight the racial discrimination and bias directed towards the Asian American community since the pandemic began.
Dr. Kirby White, a general practitioner in rural Australia, was honored for her work in providing frontline workers with protective gowns during the pandemic. Her initiative, Gowns for Doctors, recruited hundreds of local volunteers and commercial textile companies to sew thousands of re-usable gowns. They were distributed to over 750 rural medical clinics.
Dr. Jaqueline Goes de Jesus is a biomedical researcher in Brazil. The scientist led the team that sequenced the genome — the DNA instructions — of the Brazilian Covid-19 variant.
Mattel does not plan on selling the dolls modeled after the frontline workers. The company hopes that drawing attention to the work of these female pioneers will inspire young girls to consider science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) careers.
"Barbie recognizes 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 & dolls at Mattel. "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."