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LEGO Just Created a Female Scientist, and it’s a Big Deal

LEGO Just Created a Female Scientist, and it’s a Big Deal

Written by Annie-Rose Strasser

Meet Professor C. Bodin: She looks authoritative, in her white lab coat, wielding beakers full of dangerous-looking yellow and blue liquid. She’s definitely smart — according to her bio, she won the “coveted Nobrick Prize for her discovery of the theoretical System/DUPLO® Interface.” But Bodin is far from intimidating; she’s only an inch and a half tall.

Bodin is the newest minifigure from LEGO. She and others were rolled out this week as part of the company’s Minifigure Series 11. And while that may seem like an unremarkable event — she’s just a fictional figure meant for kids, after all — the creation of Bodin is actually something to be celebrated: She is the first-ever female scientist in the company’s 81-year history.

LEGO hasn’t always been a model of gender equality. The company has often marketed itself exclusively to boys. It also got itself into hot water earlier this year after one father discovered a sticker of a male LEGO construction worker sticker with a speech bubble reading “Hey Babe!”

Last year, the company pledged to “Deliver Meaningful Play Experiences to Girls Worldwide.” The new figurines, however, turned out to be different than standard legos. And, as Maia Weinstock at Scientific American points out, they were also pink and frilly.

With Professor Bodin, though, it seems LEGO is finally living up to that promise.

But why should it matter if there’s one female scientist in LEGO’s collection? Well, Weinstock reports, “the ratio of all-time minifigure models is roughly 4:1 in favor of males. And the female characters LEGO has produced are often laden with stereotypes. A quick glance at some typical female minifig torsos suggests that girls/women are predominantly into pink, hearts and excess skin.”

The toy world’s ratios and stereotypes are played out in real life: Women only make up 24 percent (PDF) of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs, despite making up nearly half of the workforce.

And it matters that girls see figurines who represent what they might become. There’s evidence that reinforcing gender stereotypes can be formative to how a little girl or boy views him or herself. Numerous studies show that girls lack confidence in mathematics if their parents enforce gender stereotypes around the subject.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: LEGO

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81 comments

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10:32AM PDT on Sep 29, 2013

Cool!

1:57PM PDT on Sep 24, 2013

Cool

1:30PM PDT on Sep 20, 2013

:) ive always loved lego

8:33AM PDT on Sep 17, 2013

This IS important.
Kids like seeing a reflection of themselves in some of the toys they play with. Sure, they can imagine anything they like, and give the minifigure whatever gender they want... but sometimes... it's just nice to have a toy that's obvious.

Last Christmas, I gave my 5-yo daughter a LEGO set that had both a tiny man, with short hair, and a tiny woman, with her long hair braided down her back. When she saw the toy, my daughter said : "Wow, there's a girl!" Now, don't be thinking that this is stereotypical: her father has always worn his hair long, so she knows men can have long hair.

Yes, the hair, the shirt, the accessories are interchangeable on LEGOs, and sometimes, in her play, some male minifigure ends up wearing the braided hair. But, still, she was initially thrilled to see that someone had thought of putting a girl minifigure there. It reminded me of when I received my first (and only) black doll. I had other dolls, and I loved them just as much, but I was glad to have at least one doll that looked kind of like me.

Mark V, you're absolutely right: words vanish, but plastic is forever!!

7:42PM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

How wonderful that Lego is doing his. There is a decided lack of role models ( scientific or otherwise) for girls. All one need do is look at the programming of channels like History and Discovery, both of which USED to be educational. Now they feature men with beards making moonshine, cutting down trees and generally killing things It is a veritable sausage party, and the frw women shown are bits of fluff. We need to show women in positive, powerful roles,. noy merely as arm and eye candy..

7:31PM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

Go Lego!

5:09AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

Thank you Think Progress, for Sharing this!

5:14AM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

ty

7:39AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

AND THIS IS NEWS???

7:05AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

good news

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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