Scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock honored for cosmic achievements by Barbie
“Since falling in love with the idea of space travel as a young girl, I have spent my career trying to show girls how fascinating space science can be. I want to inspire the next generation of scientists, and especially girls, and let them know that STEM is for them. These subjects are just too important to be left to the guys because, through science, you can literally change the world."
These are the inspiring words of British scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, whose success in making space and science accessible to girls has seen her immortalized as a one-of-a-kind Barbie doll.
Dr Aderin-Pocock is best known for co-presenting BBC One’s long-running astronomy series, The Sky At Night, and CBeebies Stargazing, which introduces children to the wonders of the night sky and the universe.
Showcasing girls in STEM careers
In celebration of both International Women's Day (IWD) and British Science Week, leading global toy company Mattel has gifted Dr Aderin-Pocock with a Barbie in her likeness, and honored her as a Barbie Role Model. The custom Barbie's starry dress and miniature telescope accessory pays tribute to Dr. Aderin-Pocock’s work with the James Webb Space Telescope.
Barbie is also donating Dr Aderin-Pocock’s book Am I Made Of Stardust? to schools across the UK through charity partner Inspiring Girls.
“We know that globally STEM is a field widely recognised as underrepresenting women so, as a brand, Barbie is committed to showing girls more STEM careers. In the UK, research tells us women make up only 26% of the STEM workforce so showcasing an exciting career in space science like Dr Maggie’s is just one way we are inspiring girls to think differently about their career opportunities," says Mattel UK Marketing director, Kelly Philp.
Smashing stereotypes of black women in STEM
Dr Aderin-Pocock is delighted to be celebrated as a role model by Mattel, particularly as black woman are still underrepresented in STEM disciplines.
"It’s such an honor to receive this doll that is celebrating my achievements. My daughter and I danced around the living room when we heard. One of my missions in life is to try and encourage girls into STEM. I work on things like climate change, trying to understand our planet, and looking deep into space. These are things that everybody should be involved in. We need diversity, so I like to encourage girls into these subjects," says Dr Aderin-Pocock.
“As a black woman, I’ve found that I don’t always fit some people’s perception of a scientist. If I introduce myself as a space scientist, some people do a bit of a double take. They're surprised that a black female is a space scientist because we do often have these stereotypical images of what people do, and I like to smash those stereotypes whenever I get the opportunity. As a child growing up I played with Barbies, and I still do now with my daughter. When I was little, Barbie didn’t look like me, so to have one created in my likeness is mind-boggling," adds Dr Aderin-Pocock.
Inspiring new generations of STEM innovators
Mattel's recognition is well-earned for a STEM role model like Dr Aderin-Pocock, who works to inspire new generations of astronauts, engineers, and scientists. Over her career, Dr Aderin-Pocock has spoken to approximately 25,000 children, many from inner-city schools, explaining how and why she became a scientist, challenging perceptions about careers, class, and gender.
Dr Aderin-Pocock also helps encourage scientific endeavors of young people as a judge for the National Science + Engineering Competition, which rewards young people who have achieved excellence in a STEM project.
Awarded for major impact on science
Dr Aderin-Pocock career and impact has seen her win some impressive accolades. Dr Aderin-Pocock was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2009 New Year Honours list for services to science education.
In 2020, Dr Aderin-Pocock was awarded the Institute of Physics William Thomson, Lord Kelvin Medal and Prize for her public engagement in physics, and was the first black woman to win a gold medal in the Physics News Award.
Dr Aderin-Pocock has also earned the sought-after title of the president-elect of the British Science Association.
Honoring further female trailblazers and role models
As part of Barbie's Inspiring Women series, Dr. Aderin-Pocock’s character joins six other women around the world who are trailblazers in their field:
In the UK, previous Barbie Role Models include vaccine creator Dame Sarah Gilbert, beauty founder Pat McGrath, broadcaster Clara Amfo, fastest woman in British history Dina Asher-Smith, champion skateboarder Sky Brown, activist and model Adwoa Aboah, and Boxer Nicola Adams.
Continuing its commitment to promote women in STEM fields, Mattel is also expanding its Barbie Career range with a marine biologist doll, joining STEM figures including a doctor, a vet, a scientist, and an astronaut.
Authentically representing the world as children see it
Mattel, the maker of Barbie, is a leading global toy company and owner of one of the strongest catalogs of children’s and family entertainment franchises in the world. With a mission is to create innovative products and experiences that inspire, entertain and develop children through play, Mattel's iconic brands include Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and UNO. Mattel's efforts to diversify its range of Barbie dolls reflects the company's purpose to authentically represent the world as children see it and imagine it, while empowering the next generation to reach their full potential. Harnessing the cultural impact of its brands, Mattel strives to promote and influence behavior on key social and environmental issues to create a better world, including gender equality. Mattel's dolls encourage pretend play, self-expression, and imagination, while empowering children to develop empathy and social skills such as caregiving, friendship, collaboration, and conflict resolution.
Although children won't get the opportunity to play with Dr Aderin-Pocock's custom doll as a one-of-a-kind gift to the scientist, Dr Aderin-Pocock hopes that girls will still be inspired when they see her and her Barbie. "All my life I've wanted to get out there into space, but for some kids that's not what makes their hearts sing. I say, reach for the stars no matter, what your stars are. Have a big powerful dream, and it will take you far. I hope my doll will remind girls that, when you reach for the stars, anything is possible," adds Dr Aderin-Pocock.