LEGO has just announced a new “Research Institute” collection, which will feature a plastic lady-chemist, a plastic lady-paleontologist, and a plastic-lady astronomer. Victory! Now, tiny boxy plastic women will be able to do all the things that real human women can do.
The new line — the latest LEGO Ideas Winner — was technically proposed by Dr. Ellen Kooijman, who made the bold proposal that perhaps it would be good to show children that girls “can become anything they want, including a paleontologist or an astronomer. But as Scientific American points out, Kooijman wasn’t the first woman to speak up about the lack of ladies in the LEGOsphere. In 2012, the company drew criticism for their attempt at cracking the girl-child market with the LEGO Friends line, which featured pink figurines doing lady things like making cupcakes, hanging out with adorable LEGO dolphins, and getting their hair done. That caused people to take action: Anita Sarkeesian released a two-part video series grilling LEGO about their history of gender-based marketing. A bunch of people, including Kooijman, proposed various ways LEGO could include female minifigures besides cupcakes. But perhaps the most visible pressure came 7-year-old Charlotte Benjamin, who asked the company to please “make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!”
Her letter went viral in February. The new Research Institute collection will hit stores this August, reports TIME.
Would that have happened without a Benjamin’s letter? I have no idea. Kooijman’s proposal predates her. On the other hand Kooijman is not a 7-year-old. And on the off chance that what social change requires is letter from a 7-year-old, I would like to make some other suggestions:
Institutions to Fix
- Silicon Valley
- Silicon Valley (HBO television program)
- Undergraduate Computer Science Departments
- The New York Review of Books
- Graduate Computer Science Departments
- The Senate
- The White House
- Hollywood (directors/producers/writers)
- Late Night Television
- Hollywood (fictional characters)
Obviously, I am also open to other ideas. Pursue your interests. I’ll buy stamps or whatever. Thank you!