Women aren't entering fields of science and math in large numbers, so Lego is encouraging them on the minifig scale.
The trend of men dominating science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines has been omnipresent in the U.S., but not for any biological reason, many experts say. Most girls just aren't pushed in that direction. Now the world's largest toy company wants to offer a gentle nudge, Maia Weinstock reports in Scientific American.
Last year, Lego released a massively popular line of female scientist minifigures, or "minifigs," those modular yellow characters the company is known for. The idea was born on the Lego Ideas site, where fans can nominate new product lines that Lego considers if an idea amasses at least 10,000 supporters. The end result was Research Institute, a trio comprised of a chemist, a paleontologist, and an astronomer.
The company's new line of minifigs, released this month, includes female veterinarians, deep sea explorers, aerospace engineers, mechanics, and pit crew members.
Take this rough and tumble Dune Buggy operator, for example.
Lego is also branching out into the grease monkey sector with a minifig of the McLaren/Mercedes Lego pit crew.
A denim vest isn't exactly common work attire for medical doctors, but the veterinarian minifig is still a solid win for veterinary science.
Then there is the Lego deep sea explorer, reminiscent of famed marine biologist Sylvia Earle.
Lego Ideas is also working on a minifig version of the cast of The Big Bang Theory, in which two of the main characters are scientists, one a microbiologist and the other a neuroscientist.
The design will be available for purchase on Aug. 1.
Admittedly, Lego still has a long way to go before achieving total minifig gender equality. While the company does produce more female characters overall, they're typically confined to non-professional personas, such as Lego's line of Friends minifigs.
The open democracy of Lego Ideas could pick up the slack.
Among the nominated entries are:
- The 19th-century computing pioneers Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage
- Noted geologist Circe Verba, depicted conducting research in both the lab and field
- Several of history's famed female scientists: paleontologist Mary Anning, x-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, physicist Lise Meitner, and physicist Marie Curie