Lego has approved the production and sale of a female scientist mini-figure set.
This really shouldn’t be big news, but it is.
Every year, Lego greenlights some fan-based projects through their Lego Ideas crowdsourcing platform Cuosso. If a project gets 10,000 votes then it has a chance to become real (kind of like the Velveteen Rabbit). Three projects are made each year.
Alatariel Elansar (a real-life geochemist and Lego fan) created a female scientist set that includes a paleontologist, an astronomer and a chemist which quickly hit the mark.
The new Lego-made “Research Institute” will be available for sale later this year—and not a minute too soon. Lego has been under pressure recently to rectify their obvious gender discrepancy when it comes to the minifigures who have a ratio of about one to four, male to female. The Lego Friends line has been criticized (from myself and countless others) over the “girly” occupations for their figures, so this is one step in the right direction.
Read more: Gender-neutral toys: 8 great picks>
Elansar said in her submission: “I have designed some professional female minifigures that also show that girls can become anything they want, including a paleontologist or an astronomer.”
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has become a trendy catchphrase in the media, and for good reason. The careers of tomorrow are dependent on this skill set. And yet the toys of today are still pigeon-holing girls into pink-hued, shop- and beauty-aholics, who sometimes teach preschool or take care of puppies.
“Girls can’t be what they can’t see,” claimed a letter from the Brave Girls Alliance to the President of Lego. With all the publicity, Lego either bowed to the pressure—or simply realized how wrong they have been.
Last year, a letter from a seven-year-old named Charlotte went viral when she asked Lego why all the girl characters lie on the beach while the boy characters get to go on fun adventures. My eight-year-old daughter has asked the same question. (But I cannot tell a lie, she loves her Friends kits.)
This is not an either/or situation. Lego (and everyone else) can manufacture toys where girls and boys are active and working in all kinds of professions—including scientists, astronomers, teachers and even hair stylists.
Female minifigures are a small thing. But the small things add up to larger dreams. I know that I will be adding this new set to our (large) Lego collection. Let’s send a message to Lego and other toy manufacturing companies that they can do better—and when they do, we will buy it.
I look forward to a day when a toy company releasing a professional female character isn’t news at all.