6 trailblazing career women your daughter should know about

Group of kids working in laboratory
(Photo: Getty)

It’s important for young girls to have role models, especially those pursuing careers in fields often considered unconventional for women. This is especially critical considering girls as young as five start to internalise self-limiting beliefs — beliefs that tell them they can’t be presidents, scientists, engineers or CEOs.

Unfortunately, there is a gender gap when it comes to certain professions: women are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) professions. In fact, they only make up 14.4 percent of STEM workers in the U.K., even though they are roughly 50 percent of the country’s workforce. And we still need more women running businesses and ruling countries.

Known as The Dream Gap, Barbie is working hard to ensure that girls don’t feel limited by their gender and succumb to damaging cultural stereotypes suggesting they’re less intelligent than men. The company also wants to ensure that girls continue to pursue any — and every — career path they’re interested in.

Let’s not only tell girls: “You can be anything.” Let’s show them how to do it — with these trailblazing women leading the way.

Political leader: Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's prime minster
Jacinda Ardern is New Zealand’s youngest female prime minster. (Photo: Getty)

Jacinda Ardern isn’t New Zealand’s first female PM — but she is changing the narrative surrounding female politicians and motherhood by combining parenting with one of the toughest jobs on the planet. And yes, that means breastfeeding her baby at the United Nations General Assembly, as well as creating policies that are favourable for families (her families package launched while she was on maternity leave). She’s called herself “a mother, not a superwoman,” but she’s worked her way up to the highest position in politics — sounds pretty inspiring, and super, to us.

Footballer: Sara Gama, captain Of Juventus and the Italian national soccer team

Sara Gama
Sara Gama is only 29 and is captain of Juventus and the Italian national soccer teams. (Photo: Getty)

Footballer Sara Gama might only be 29, but she’s achieved a lot in the 22 years since she started kicking a football around her hometown of Trieste in Italy. The current captain of Juventus and the Italian national team, as well as president of the Federal Commission for the Development of Women’s Soccer in Italy, Sara also has a degree in foreign languages and literature from the University of Udine.

Scientist: Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, X-ray crystallographer

British biochemist Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin
British biochemist Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. (Photo: Getty)

The only British female scientist to have won a Nobel prize for science, Dorothy Hodgkin was a brilliant chemist and X-ray crystallographer. Her work revealed the molecular structures of antibiotics like penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin and made it possible for doctors to develop treatments for diabetes. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1964. She’ll reportedly become the new face of the £50 note, which will bring her legacy to a wider audience.

Astronaut: Wendy Lawrence, former NASA employee

Wendy Lawrence
Wendy Lawrence, a retired US Navy captain and former NASA astronaut pictured on the Space Shuttle trainer that was used for astronaut’s training at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. (Photo: Getty)

Female astronauts like Sally Ride, Helen Sharman and Mae C. Jemison are trailblazing icons for girls. NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson has even become a pop-culture favourite thanks to the film Hidden Figures (you can now take her home in the form of a Barbie Inspiring Women doll). While it might feel like there are plenty of female astronauts, think about this: 2019 marks 50 years since man walked on the moon, and still a women hasn’t.

Former NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence first trained as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Navy before becoming an astronaut aboard four NASA space shuttle flights between 1995 and 2005.

According to ABC, she said: “I think especially here in the United States, we like to say, ‘Well you throw like a girl or you run like a girl,’ and historically, that’s not been a very positive thing. So I suspect that in the minds of some of my male colleagues, especially when I was going through flight school, they probably thought I was gonna fly like a girl… I was willing to buckle down and be focused for a long period of time cause my mindset was: ‘I’m gonna prove you’re wrong.’” And prove ‘em wrong, she did.

CEO: Emma Walmsley, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline

Emma Walmsley
Emma Walmsley is the chief executive officer of pharma giant Glaxosmithkline. (Photo: Getty)

The percentage of women in leadership positions on Financial Times Stock Exchange Group (FTSE) 100 boards is 9.7 percent, with just seven female chief executives — and Emma Walmsley, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, is one of them. A mum of four, she was hesitant to accept the CEO role initially, she wrote for Lean In: “The leaning in felt like a bungee jump, a leaping more than a leaning into the unknown, but it remains the second best decision I have ever made (after marrying David).”

Structural engineer: Roma Agrawal, MBE

Roma Agrawal
Structural engineer Roma Agrawal pictured at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2018. (Photo: Getty)

Indian-British-American Roma Agrawal isn’t just a structural engineer who’s worked on huge global projects like the Shard in London, she’s also a campaigner who speaks to the next generation in schools and universities on bridging the diversity gap in engineering.

Visit https://www.barbie.com/en-gb/dream-gap to learn more.