Toy company Mattel has just announced its largest lineup of global female role models honored to date by Barbie ahead of International Women's Day on March 8.
The lineup includes a cross-section of women at the top of their game, whatever industry they're in, in an effort to counter something known as the Dream Gap.
At age five, girls start doubting their potential, cultivating limiting self-beliefs, and stop believing they can achieve anything, according to a study conducted by researchers at New York University, the University of Illinois, and Princeton University, cited by Mattel.
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That’s why Mattel, creator of the iconic Barbie doll, launched a multi-year initiative in October 2018 called the Dream Gap Project — a global initiative that aims to give girls the resources and support they need to continue to believe in their own ability.
“For 60 years, Barbie has championed girls, inspired generations to believe through make believe and showed them that they have choices,” said Lisa McKnight, general manager and senior vice president at Barbie. “The Barbie brand believes girls should never know a world, job, or dream women haven't conquered.”
The latest step in the project is the launch of a new lineup of role models, including: Brazilian surgery Maya Gabiera; Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka; German cycling champion Kristina Vogel; Canadian ice skater Tessa Virtue; US actress Yara Shahidi; British model and activist Adwoa Aboah; Indian artistic gymnast Dipa Karmakar; Chinese photographer Chen Man; and Australian journalist Ita Buttrose.
The point of the international lineup — which includes women between 19 and 85 years old and who speak 13 languages between them — is to “shine a light on women who are breaking boundaries in a variety of diverse career fields,” according to a statement from Mattel.
Mattel has created for these women a one-of-a-kind doll, made in their likeness, as a continuation of its “Shero” program launched in 2015.
"I want to help close the Dream Gap, so that girls don't have to question if they are smart or brave, and have no limits placed on their capabilities by society," Aboah, who launched the online community Gurls Talk in 2015, was quoted as saying by the Independent.
"I believe by working together we can encourage girls to find their authentic voices and that we can have an impact on the world for the next generation of girls," she added. "I hope we can inspire girls to try to change the world around them, through acts big or small."
Another element of the International Women’s Day 2019 celebrations is the launch of the Barbie Dream Gap Project Fund, which will dedicate resources to organizations working to help close the Dream Gap and “level the playing field for girls.”
This initiative will see Barbie donate $1 from every doll sold in the US up to $250,000 (between March 6 and March 11) with funds to be managed through the Mattel Children’s Foundation — its social impact arm.