Walk into almost any toy shop in the UK and you’re bound to see a clear gender divide. Bold primary colours, remote-controlled cars, superheroes, Lego, train sets and action heroes teach boys to break, to build and to follow their dream, whatever they may be. Little girls, on the other hand, are touted bright pink wares, with a plethora of dolls, tiaras and cuddly toys. From an early age, they are taught to care for things – and that they should look a certain way.
Lego, however, is keen to change all of that, with an incredible Women of NASA set.
Read more: Are you ready for the realistic Barbie?
Following the success of award-winning film Hidden Figures, which shines a spotlight on the incredible women who were pivotal in helping NASA beat the Russians in the 1950s space race, science writer Maia Weinstock has come up with the idea of celebrating some of NASA’s most inspiring and incredible women.
This, she hopes, will inspire little girls everywhere to pursue careers in STEM fields – and overcome discriminatory (and ridiculous) beliefs that women are not as scientifically minded as men.
The set, which is due to be released later this year or in 2018, focuses on five badass women in particular:
- Margaret Hamilton: the computer scientist who developed the on-board flight software for Apollo missions to the moon
- Katherine Johnson: the mathematician and space scientist who calculated and verified trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs (and one of the women whose story is told in Hidden Figures)
- Sally Ride: the astronaut and physicist who became the first woman to enter outer-space in 1983
- Nancy Grace Roman: the ‘Mother of the Hubble’ and one of the first female executives at NASA
- Mae Jemison: the first African-American woman in space in 1992
Speaking about the idea on the company’s official blog, Lego says: “A big congratulations to [Maia Weinstock] on becoming the next official LEGO Ideas fan designer!
“As a science editor and writer, with a strong personal interest for space exploration as well as the history of women in science and engineering, Maia Weinstock's Women of NASA project was a way for her to celebrate accomplished women in the STEM professions. In particular those who've made a big impact through their work at NASA.”
It adds: “We're really excited to be able to introduce Maia's Women of NASA set for its inspirational value as well as build and play experience.”
It is not the first time that Lego has attempted to challenge gender stereotypes; the company has brought out several female-focused science ranges and launched the Lego Friends line in 2012.
In a statement at the time, Lego CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said: “We felt it was time to test assumptions that girls aren’t interested in building and to breathe fresh air into a toy category filled mostly with pre-fabricated play experiences for girls.”
Senior creative director Nanna Ulrich Gudum added: “Unlike previous Lego toys for girls, Lego Friends, at its core, does not apologise for being a construction toy and delivers, for the first time, a building experience in the same scale as our classic offerings.”
Again, the toys have an element of ‘girl power’ about them, steering away from the usual beauty parlours and tea shops of the Barbie world and including an inventor’s workshop and veterinary clinic instead.
Anyone else suddenly tempted to nip to the shops and stock up on some Lego?