Gender victory in Legoland

Women in science are taking one tiny, plastic step forward after Lego announced this week it will launch a series of female scientists and their lab tools.

The science-themed project was selected as the latest Lego Ideas winner, and is set to hit shelves in August. The series 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. On her blog, the avid Lego builder said she recognised a gender gap among the company’s figurines.

“It seemed logical that I would suggest a small set of female minifigures in interesting professions to make our Lego city communities more diverse,” she wrote.

The toy company has been criticised in the past for its gender-based marketing tactics and, in particular, over its Lego Friends line for girls, featuring slim female figurines that lock into pastel-painted settings such as a beauty salon and a 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”, whereas the boy figures went “on adventures, worked, saved people and had jobs”.

Lego Ideas is a site where enthusiasts can submit and vote on ideas for sets they want to see available in toy stores. – © Guardian News & Media 2014

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