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Barbie becomes a Difference Maker!

Environment > Barbie becomes a Difference Maker!

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The Barbie who developed the vaccine...

09 August 2021, 1:43 PM

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We all know Barbie – long blonde hair, wears mini-skirts and loves pink, right? Well actually, Barbie has a fresh new look and we’re here for it!

Barbie maker, Mattel, has created a brand-new Barbie doll and this time, she’s based on incredible difference maker and scientist, Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert…you know, the woman who designed the Oxford coronavirus vaccine that changed our lives and is now the most widely used around the world?! YAS QUEEN!

To shine a light on the efforts of the frontline workers, Barbie is sharing their stories to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and follow in their footsteps.  

Sarah’s Barbie is one of six to honour women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), hoping to inspire and show children careers they may not be aware of and highlight how important these careers are to our world. Other dolls made include an Australian medic and a Brazilian biomedical researcher - now this is a ‘Barbie world’ we want to be a part of!  

Mattel has had some negativity over the years with criticism that Barbie sets an unrealistic image of a woman, so its dolls now focus on a range of exciting careers such as a firefighter, doctor and astronaut. Now, that’s more like it.

The first hijab-wearing Barbie was launched in 2017, to honour an American fencer who became the first US woman to wear the Islamic headscarf while competing at the Olympics, and in 2019, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks was made into a Barbie doll, AND last year, Team GB athlete Dina Asher-Smith had her own doll made too!

Last year, sales of Barbie dolls rose to a six-year high hitting £940 million, as the pandemic saw parents stock up on toys for their children.  

But we know what you’re thinking, Barbie = plastic which is a big NO NO for the environment. 

But don’t panic! Mattel has made a pledge to use 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across ALL its products and packaging by 2030. A bio-based Barbie? Yes please.

And Mattel have already started making waves; in June this year, it launched a brand-new line of Barbie's made from plastic that would otherwise become ocean waste! Mattel teamed up with plastics recycling company, Envision Plastics, to create the ‘Barbie Loves the Ocean’ collection, where material is sourced from areas in Mexico that are trying to stop plastic waste pollution.  

Who’d have thought Barbie would be into sustainability and STEM?! Now that’s a match made in heaven.  

[Cheeky little fact that you might not know: Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, and she was born/introduced to the world in 1959.] Babs is looking good for 62!

Which #DifferenceMaker do you think should be made into a Barbie? Head over to our social media channels and let us know.

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#DifferenceMakers was created to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) – one of the world’s largest engineering institutions and a diverse home for everyone in engineering and technology.