Girls to Lego: What the Heck Are You Thinking?


When you think of girls playing with Legos, do you think of them building robots and competing internationally?

Or do you think of a girl sitting in front of a 1960s era vanity brushing her hair?

It’s probably no surprise that I like the first image better!  I wish I could say the same for Lego executives. Soon, Lego will roll out brand-new sets designed for girls ages 5 and up, with the theme “Friends.”  The sets were developed with four years (!) of company research into what girls want from Legos.

A group of girl-supporting bloggers are trying to raise Lego’s consciousness and I’m one of them. Powered by Girl – PBG started the ball rolling. Supporters include  Pigtail Pals, Reel Girl, Spark Summit, Shaping Youth, Princess-Free Zone, Peggy Orenstein, Jennifer Shewmaker, Amy Siskind and more every day.

My early research on what girls want from Lego was admittedly done with a smaller sample. My daughters loved and played with Legos constantly back in the days before any “sets.”  They built their own people from the basic red, green, blue and yellow pieces because those were all the colors there were and we didn’t have any people in our tub of pieces.  This led to people with wheels for feet and people of all shapes and sizes.

My point isn’t to be nostalgic. I welcome Legos of all colors and love the new pieces that make functioning Lego robots possible. But I’m not happy with Legos that disappointingly mimic other “girl toys” that already line the aisles with worn-out gender stereotypes.

Let’s ask Lego to expand their vision of girls and their interests in the next round of sets they design for girls.

Here’s a suggestion, Lego:  Take the four girls from The 4th Motor team of Wisconsin who won the 2011 First Lego League North American open robotics challenge (1st all-girl team to win)! One of the team members shared some of their experiences and hard work in New Moon Girls’ March-April 2011 magazine and on  Here’s some video of them winning the N.A. competition. All this, and a little herstory about the first computer programmer Ada Lovelace show how easy it is to encourage girls to do creative problem-solving with Legos — inspiration, pure and simple.

This winning team of girls should lead development of Lego’s next set for girls. I’m more than glad to help Lego learn how to share power with girls in developing great products for them without reducing them to lowest-common-denominator stereotypes.  It can be done and sustained, as we’ve done at New Moon Girls for nearly 20 years now.

What do you say Lego? I and many girls and women are longtime fans of yours I’d love to see you step up and work with us to make things better for girls.

If you want to share this idea with Lego, write to them and also post your letter here or on Facebook:

LEGO Systems, Inc.

555 Taylor Road

P.O. Box 1138

Enfield, CT 06083-1138

Here’s a letter two Lego-loving NMG members wrote themselves and shared with Lego and me:

Dear Legos,

We are two girls ages nine and ten and we would like to give our opinions about your new girl Legos. What the heck are you thinking? Your new campaign is so sexist! Yes, it’s true that some girls like this but we’re just regular people and we’re not all obsessed with beauty. We care about our education and our life and just that we have faith in ourselves, not that we have to only think about combing our hair every day and looking in the mirror!

This makes us very mad. Girls like different things. When we think of Legos, we think of building architecture and building cool things, not building something to make our hair look better. We built a whole city, with our brothers, that had restaurants and boats and an ocean surrounding it. We used to build these structures with slides and pools and not once did we think about making a bathroom with hair accessories and a mirror, with perfume next to it!

You’re probably not going to make much money from this because no one is going to buy it because it’s not really what girls like, in our opinion. We’re writing this to help you! We are just giving you constructive criticism. Thanks for your time.

Aliyah Newman (9) & Rusha Bartlett (10)

PS You might want to check your research!


Related Stories:

Sexism in the Toy Store Aisles

Are Women and Girls Groomed to Choose Oppression?

The Myth of the “Girl Brain”



Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog6 years ago

I love the fact that this has caused a stir - and I think it's great that these obviously intelligent girls have written a letter to Lego - keep up the good work!

Jovanca Molina
Maria Molina6 years ago

50 years ago there were no legos in Mexico. Anyway, I used to play with wood blocks and build things. I loved trucks and cars. I used to build airplanes. I also had a doll, and a baby boy doll called John (For JFK). I discovered I liked the movement, cars, swings, balls and that was the reason I didn´t love girls toys. Now I am working on Robotics. My PhD thesis is about legos, robotics and girls. Thank you for this article. Greetings from Mexico City.

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen6 years ago

Alan G.
from what I am learning from entries like this is, by default no little girl wants this.
we tell her she wants this
we drill it into her head to want this.

so she never knows if she likes anything other than "let's pretend I own a resturant" or "puppy rescue" or "play doctor-nurse-medic"

she might want to be an offroad biker
construction worker
military stragitist.

we give her toys to tell her fashion is the best passion. but never to be a lawyer
we tell her to be a mommy, not a warrior
that she should be pretty and a pop star and not a chemist working on god-knows-what.

Alan G.
Alan G7 years ago

Lego is thinking they will make lots of money selling a product that lots of little girls will want. Girls are allowed to like pink hair salons aren't they? And they are still allowed to buy other lego sets if they would prefer them, arnet they?

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago tell new moon girls to suggest this and not the girly legos

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

and who's to say they can't mix and match? reading the "toy wars" on care2 has me notice people saying things of "my older brother" "when I was 7 and my brother 9 we ...." "i put my stuffed animals in MY BROTHER'S TRUCKS AND PRETENDED THEY WERE CARRAIGES"

I really should cap those images, if I ever create rant videos.

this is why you need psych and sociology classes to make it in the toyworld. MLP:Friendship is magic has gatherd a male fan grouping(it is witty, because of who wrote/writes/created it), so that means I can design a "my little pony for boys" right? based on the assumption of a select few. That means as well, "typical" 5 year old boys should dabble in playing with colorful animals that some "deem feminine" (girls have cats, boys have dogs, girls have ponies, boys have buffalos)

as far as I know, there is a pride in branching away from a sterotype,, which makes one egotistic. because you like, or want. won't mean more people have no intrest.

because I have no intrest in makeup and glitz and glam, means all other women should do, and nobody should create characters who are into that and who are always worrying about getting a date.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons7 years ago

There are many other lego sets out there if you don't like it don't buy it. Some people might want a girly lego set, some people might want the robot set. I don't see anything wrong with it. You are taking politically correct way overboard.

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

eff'ing oliva likes to invent, but comes with a tree house?

Lesley W.
Lesley W.7 years ago

A letter from my 10 year old daughter Callie, which we're sending to LEGO:

LEGO Systems, Inc.
555 Taylor Road
P.O. Box 1138
Enfield, CT 06083-1138 01/05/2012

Dear Lego Company,

Rosalind Elsie Franklin, Lise Meitner, and Grace Murray Hopper. Do you think those great women scientists spent time playing with vintage style dressing rooms when they were girls? Do you think they decided to sit and look at a girl brushing her hair? No. They would be walking in museums, reading, conducting experiments, researching, and doing creative thinking. Legos are a great way to do the latter and I congratulate you on that. Legos are amazing and a great idea. They’re fun, brain building and easy to use. But when you turn them into a stereotypical toy, that’s just destroying the individuality so many people have been working for. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for blacks and whites to be equal. Today people are fighting for the equality of gay people. Susan B. Anthony and Gloria Steinem were fighting for women’s equality. And when I walk into a toy store and an attendant leads me to an aisle plastered with putrid pink I think you just swept all those people fighting for equality out of the way and ignored what they said.

Generalizing is saying any group of people is all one way, or likes one thing. Even if it’s complimentary, saying a group of people is all the same is just not true. Every person is unique and has a spark, different likes and disl

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

stupid make up