New York (CNN) Barbie isn’t one to be pigeonholed into a profession just because she’s a woman. She’s had 200 impressive careers on her resume — doctor, astronaut, computer engineer, CEO, and even presidential candidate.
For International Women’s Day on March 8, Mattel (owner of the Barbie brand) hopes to inspire young girls to embrace the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by honoring a group small group of STEM pioneers with their very own Barbie doll.
Among them are the Wojcicki sisters – Susan (longtime CEO of YouTube), Anne (CEO of home DNA testing company 23andME) and Janet (professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco ).
Susan Wojcicki announced in February that she was “stepping back” from her leadership role at YouTube after nearly a decade leading the video-sharing platform.
Wojcicki has been involved with YouTube’s parent company, Google, since its inception, when its two founders worked out of her California garage building a search engine. She then became Google’s 16th employee and has been with the company for almost 25 years.
The group also includes female STEM pioneers from around the world such as Maggie Aderin-Pocock, space scientist and educator from the UK; Antje Boetius, German marine researcher and microbiologist; Li Yinuo, co-founder of ETU Education, a school startup in China that offers more personalized education; and Katya Echazarreta, an electrical engineer who has worked on five NASA missions and the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space.
“Our parents encouraged independence and the belief that we really could be anything we wanted to be when I grew up, but the most important thing was to pursue a passion,” Anne Wojcicki said in a statement. “I hope sharing our stories will encourage young girls to try something new, face something that might scare them, and see challenges as exciting opportunities.”
Mattel said the unique dolls are not for sale and will be gifted to the women who inspired them.
According to Mattel, Barbie herself has had more than 40 different STEM careers, including astrophysicist, space scientist, doctor, and robotics engineer. While women in the real world make up half of America’s workforce, they still make up less than a third of the STEM workforce.
“STEM is a field where women are severely underrepresented, and we hope honoring these seven leaders in science and technology will encourage girls to follow their passion in this field,” said Lisa McKnight, vice-president. executive chairman and global head of Barbie & Dolls with Mattel, said in a statement.
Barbie STEM models are the latest in an effort by Mattel to champion the achievements of leading women in all professions. For example, the company honored TV producer and writer Shonda Rhimes with her very own Barbie doll last year and style icon Iris Apfel in 2018.
Mattel’s push to expand into Barbies based on extraordinary real-life women has helped boost the market for Barbie collectors, said Jim Silver, a toy industry expert and CEO of Toys, Tots, Pets & More, an industry review website.
“The collector market for Barbies has been strong for many years, but Mattel has turned to many other models,” Silver said. “The change has been hugely popular with their collector fans and has also brought widespread attention to models who should be honored and who often don’t get the recognition they deserve.”
Famous British primatologist Jane Goodall also got her very own Barbie in 2022 as part of the Inspiring Women series of Barbie dolls which are based on women who have been leading figures in history. The Barbie Jane Goodall was for sale. The Inspiring Women Barbie series, priced at $35 for the doll, is typically sold at Amazon, Walmart, and Target stores.
— CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this story.