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Mattel announces West Virginian Katherine Coleman Johnson Barbie doll included in new ‘Inspiring Women’ series

Mountain Messenger

Katherine Coleman Johnson’s Barbie replica, a part of the new “Inspiring Women” series by Mattel.
(Mattel photo)

LEWISBURG, W.Va. — On Tuesday, Mar. 6, Mattel announced that they will be releasing a new series of Barbie dolls titled “Inspiring Women.”

According to Mattel’s website, the series “pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.” There will be 17 dolls in total, with the first three already being available for purchase. Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, and Katherine Coleman Johnson are the first three featured in the series.

Katherine Coleman Johnson is a native of White Sulphur Springs who worked for NASA for over 30 years, up until 1986, using her math and computer skills to further mankind’s exploration of space. Johnson, known as a “human computer,” calculated the paths that spacecraft took as they orbited Earth and ultimately landed on the moon. She started high school when she was 10, and graduated college at age 18 with two Bachelor of Science degrees. In later years, her math was used to send people to the moon and back in a time before digital computers were available. In 2016, the film “Hidden Figures” was released, which follows the story of three African-American women who were crucial in the early years of NASA’s space program, including Johnson.

Mattel’s website states that “The Barbie Inspiring Women Katherine Johnson doll celebrates the achievements of a pioneer who broke through barriers of race and gender. Like the trajectories she calculated, Katherine’s contributions inspire young people to excel in math and science, and to reach for the stars.”

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