This Canadian scientist is the face behind a brand new Barbie doll
Alexandra Mae Jones, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, July 12, 2019 9:26AM EDT
For 60 years, Mattel’s Barbie doll has inspired girls to dream big with their careers — now, one Canadian researcher’s career has inspired a new doll.
Dr. Sara Iverson, a professor at Dalhousie University and the real-life role model behind one of the designs, told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday that it was “very cool,” that Barbie is becoming a polar marine biologist.
She said she was lucky to have mentors who encouraged her career aspirations when she was younger, but that she’s aware that not every kid gets that opportunity.
“I think it’s really great that for a little girl that’s going to play with Barbie anyway, that she gets to basically play out a role that is a really cool career.”
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Over the years, the famous Mattel doll has been everything, from a movie star to a paleontologist to the president of the United States.
Barbie may be entering the years that a human might start wondering about retirement, but she’s far from done; as part of the celebration for her 60th birthday she’s adding four new careers to her impressive roster.
These new dolls were conceived of and designed through a partnership with National Geographic that was announced last January. Apart from a polar marine biologist Barbie, there will also be an astrophysicist, a wildlife conservationist and a wildlife photojournalist.
The idea was to design the new dolls based “on careers that are traditionally underrepresented by women, and involve exploration and discovery and conservation,” Iverson said. “Then the process was to seek out role models that would basically be the face of this career and give a little girl an opportunity to actually experience it firsthand.”
For four Canadian girls, this National Geographic partnership doesn’t just mean a new doll: it means a chance to play out these careers in real life. Mattel is running a contest only in Canada called You Can Be Anything, where girls can enter to visit one of the women serving as role models behind the new dolls.
This means that one winner, aged 10-12, will be travelling to Dalhousie University in Halifax to join Iverson in her research lab.
“She’ll go on a shark-tagging expedition with me, to tag blue sharks,” Iverson said. “And then she’ll come back to Dalhousie and to my biology lab, and meet all my graduate students, who all happen to be women, and learn about the fascinating work that all of them are doing on seals and seabirds and things like that.”
Iverson’s contest ends July 15, and the winner will be visiting her in late July. The four new dolls won’t hit the shelves until this fall.
"Helping people understand the world is, and always has been, the core purpose of National Geographic," said Susan Goldberg, editor in chief of National Geographic magazine and editorial director of National Geographic Partners, in a news release on the new dolls. "Through our partnership with Barbie, we are excited to reach kids in a new way, using the power of play to inspire our next generation of explorers, scientists and photographers."
Other celebrations for Barbie’s 60th birthday include a line of role model dolls sculpted in the likeness of 20 inspirational women, including Canada’s Tessa Virtue. A doll based on David Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust was also unveiled Thursday.