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From princess to President, Barbie has had many careers over the years. Now, in honour of her 60th birthday, Mattel has created a line of dolls with the aim of inspiring girls to choose whatever career they want. The company partnered with National Geographic to create four new career Barbie dolls in fields that women are often underrepresented in.

“Barbie has been celebrating female role models and Inspiring Girls Since 1959. But she isn’t done yet,” the Barbie website reads. “There are glass ceilings left to be shattered. And Barbie believes this generation of young women will be the ones to shatter them – that today’s girls will be The Last Generation of Firsts.”

Dr. Sara Iverson is a marine biologist and she was asked to be the face of one the new dolls: Polar Marine Biologist Barbie. The real life role models were not intended to serve as the likeness of the dolls, but to put a face to the career outside of the doll.


Photo credit: Mattel

So, how does it feel to become a Barbie?

“I thought it was very cool,” Iverson told us. “I was lucky as a little kid that I had mentors, but I don’t think that often happens.”

“I think it’s really great for a little girl that’s going to play with Barbie that she gets to play out a role that’s a really cool career.”

The other three dolls were inspired by a wildlife conservationist, an astrophysicist and a wildlife photojournalist. One of the things that impressed Iverson about the new dolls was how diverse they are: they all have different body types, skin tones, hair colours, and more.

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 Canada-only contest where girls between 10 and 12 years old can enter to visit one of the women who inspired the new collection of dolls.

“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.”

The new dolls are expected to hit shelves this fall.