The cause of equality in science has taken one tiny, plastic step forward after Lego announced a series of figures depicting female scientists and their equipment.
The project was selected after winning an online vote on the Lego website, and is set to hit shelves in August 2014. The series — notably devoid of pink — includes an astronomer with a telescope, a palaeontologist with a dinosaur skeleton and a chemist in a lab.
The project idea was submitted by Dr Ellen Kooijman, a geochemist in Stockholm. In her project proposal, Kooijman wrote: “The motto of these scientists is clear: explore the world and beyond!” On her blog, Kooijman, an avid Lego builder, wrote: “As a female scientist I had noticed two things about the available Lego sets: a skewed male/female minifigure ratio and a rather stereotypical representation of the available female figures ... It seemed logical that I would suggest a small set of female minifigures in interesting professions to make our Lego city communities more diverse.” Lego has been criticised in the past for its gender-based marketing tactics, and in particular, over a series for girls called Lego Friends, featuring slim female figurines that lock into pastel-painted settings such as a beauty salon and bakery.
The debate even prompted a seven-year-old girl to write a letter to Lego asking why there are “more Lego boy people and barely any Lego girls?”. In her letter, Charlotte Benjamin lamented how “all the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and had no jobs”, while the boy figures went “on adventures, worked, saved people and had jobs”.
Lego Ideas is a site where enthusiasts can submit and vote for sets they want to see available. When a project receives 10,000 votes, it enters a review phase to be evaluated by set designers and marketing representatives, the website says.
After testing the concepts for stability, playability, safety, market fit and more, the board selects one idea to become the next Lego Ideas product. The creator receives a cut of the product’s sales. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014