That scream you just heard? That scream of every nerdy, sci-fi loving lady on your Friends list? You can thank Lego for that.
Because they’re introducing a line of sets made up entirely of female scientists, and WE ARE EXCITED. (Though, it’s worth noting that the set was the winner of their winter 2014 design context, and were proposed by a women.)
When I first saw the Mashable Article that announced Lego: Research Institute, I got excited. When I realized they meant generic staff at a Lego Research Institute, I flipped my freaking lid and started sharing the news.
…an astronomer with a telescope, a chemist with a lab and a paleontologist with a dinosaur skeleton.
An entire toy set full of women, and it isn’t called “Lego: Women In Science,” or “Lego: Grrls Can Do Teh Sciences, Too”. It’s called Lego: Research Institute. And you open the doors of that institute and you’ve got an astronomer, a chemist and a paleontologist. (Obviously, this is the research institute responsible for something to do with space dinosaurs…who are really good at chemistry*.) Oh — and they all just happen to be women.
Seeing women in STEM roles make their way into kids’ toys is rare. Doing it this way – constructing a setting for the use of imagination, choosing a setting where one gender is not always welcome, and then populating it exclusively with representatives of that gender? I definitely can’t think of another company that’s produced this kind of line, even if it came from a crowd-sourced ideas process and wasn’t generated internally. I would, however, absolutely welcome corrections to this in the comments.
From the moment a child picks up one of the employees at Lego: Research Institute, they’ll be using their imagination to create lives and goals for women in STEM roles. They will, by default, see women in STEM roles. How can that help but create space in their minds for seeing this as normal, and not the exception?
Women are still woefully underrepresented in STEM careers, and correcting that underrepresentation is going to take effort. Giving all children the tools to start imagining women as common members of STEM professions will, I’m willing to guess, eventually help start to change the cultures of those fields, making historically exclusive spaces more friendly to the women working in them both today and in the future.
I leave you with three questions:
- Parents: think maybe you’ll snag a couple of these sets for your kids?
- Who wants to create the computer programming and comic book equivalents of this set?
- Okay, this one isn’t a question, but there is a donate button on the righthand side of my blog and Lego sets do not come cheap.
*I was not really good at chemistry, which probably explains why I can’t think of a good way to blend it with astronomy or paleontology.