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Lego responds to sexism critiques with female scientists set

Lego Responds To Sexism Critiques With Female Scientists Set

Legos allow you to build pretty much anything, and now the Danish company that invented the toy is trying to build something else - support for females in technology fields.

Introducing: the Lego Research Institute set. It includes three women with scientific professions including a paleontologist, astronomer and chemist.

The product was released through Lego's Lego Ideas program, which allows designers outside the company to design custom sets that then have a chance of becoming actual products after receiving 10,000 votes.

​The release comes months after a 7-year-old girl wrote Lego a letter complaining that all the girl Legos did was just ​"sit at home, go to the beach and shop" and had no jobs, while the boys "went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks." (Via The Society Pages)

While it may seem like a pretty routine product announcement, there's a lot of scrutiny these days when it comes to how toys portray gender, particularly when it comes to showing women in STEM jobs - that's science, technology, engineering or math.

Mic says the decision is exactly what young women need, writing: "Rather than just releasing Lego sets featuring women in traditionally 'unfeminine' roles (whatever that means), the set features strong, driven, smart women in an array of STEM jobs."

And a ThinkProgress writer says that the new toy will "help combat some of the subtle ways that society signals to girls that they shouldn't get interested in the STEM fields."

But despite the Lego Research Institute set, the company has sometimes been a target of those who see toys as the first step to ending harmful gender stereotypes.

Earlier this year, a guest writer at Scientific American found that for every female Lego minifigure, there are four male ones. Hardly any of the female characters represented STEM professions.

And an article by a female physicist on The Guardian criticized Lego for including female stereotypes in a recent set, which included a grandma, a diner waitress and a pretzel girl.

"Lego is modular. It is perfectly designed for avoiding this issue, because you can just make all the bits ... and let children put them together for themselves. Why impose the stereotypes on them at all?"

The company also got quite a backlash when it released "for girls" sets called "Lego Friends" - which traded in the traditional minifig for dollhouse-style characters.

So it looks like Lego still has some work to do to silence its critics, but the fact that the Research Institute set has already sold out might show they're on the right track.

Join the discussion

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Junkmale August 05 2014 at 3:57 AM

Ok. Now that's done, where are the gay legos?

Flag Reply +16 rate up
4 replies
Franco August 04 2014 at 11:36 PM

Come on people, how many women brick layers have been spotted on a construction site? None, women would ruin their nails.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
4 replies
Laraine August 05 2014 at 9:55 AM

How ridiculous. The world is truly nuts.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
erinjanespca Laraine August 05 2014 at 11:09 AM


The article author has no idea what they're talking about. The sets won customer votes, Lego didn't even come up with it, just enacted the idea for the person who came up with it.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ralph1478 August 05 2014 at 8:06 AM

I worry about the mental health of this country.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
vendelavee August 05 2014 at 9:20 AM

Tell the women to STUFF IT! No matter what anyone does today the damn Feminists will claim it is sexist.

We've been through this before. The Feminists complain. Changes are made to pander to their complaints and NOTHING CHANGES!

The new changes don't increase sales or more interest by women in the product. BECAUSE women had no interest in the product anyway. It was just the delusions of the Feminist with their "victim mentality" that somehow women were victimized by the way things were being done.

The Feminist have a sick need to prove women are victims.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
5 replies
ilenedan2 August 04 2014 at 11:21 PM

If it has already sold out, it is sad that it took a letter from a 7 year old to clue them in to this untapped market. Forget just looking at this toy set. Lego needs to take a look at exactly who they hire to design their products.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
5 replies
Mike August 05 2014 at 10:19 AM

I would always build the set, then tear it apart and build my own stuff so it never mattered to me what gender or whatever. It's sad that mom's just dont teach their daughters to do the same instead of just crying about it.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
patandersen1 August 05 2014 at 9:46 AM

isn't amazing that over the decades women have propered even before legos encouraged them? I'm sorry but I had had the Social Activists up to my gums - they continue to foster negative, intollerant and devisive behavior that is becoming epidemic and in many cases are far more damaging to people than what they protest....sorry guys this is a silly issue raised by people who obvious are not able to mainstream.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
anidaati August 05 2014 at 7:29 AM

Just shoot me in the head.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
kate August 05 2014 at 10:17 AM

When I was a kid I played with lincoln logs and tinker toys and I'm pretty sure they weren't pink or purple or had a "girls version". Why can't girls who play with legos (a minority) just pretend the people are women? Or just use WyldStyle/Lucy :)

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
rwilliamhoward kate August 05 2014 at 11:32 AM

Leggo is an interesting toy concept. It can be whatever the USER wants it to be. With a little help, it can expand its USER BASE. WIN-WIN! Leggo has more business, and another child becomes interested in the toy.

I wish someone would tell me what is wrong with making a child's toy attractive to OTHER CHILDREN?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
CAMERON kate August 05 2014 at 1:17 PM

Me too in fact I still have my Tinker toys. ( can container ) I wonder how much. They are worth ?
Over 50 yrs old

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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