Minus the penguin and the dog, there appear to be 17 Lego characters in the above image, featured on the toy company’s mini-figures landing page.
But take a closer look, and you’ll find that only three of the lot are easily identifiable as women (including one named the “Ice Queen“). That’s a whopping 18 percent, and reflects the unfortunate state of gender equality in the Lego world.
While the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey found that women make up 48 percent of the U.S. workforce, they comprise only 24 percent of workers in STEM fields — that is, fields involving science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Maia Weinstock, MIT News deputy editor and advocate for women in STEM, has decided to take the fight to the Lego world.
Weinstock has proposed the creation of a Lego “Women of NASA” mini-figure set to both improve the gender breakdown of Lego characters and increase the representation of female characters in STEM fields. The set would include Margaret Hamilton, Katherine Johnson, Sally Ride, Nancy Grace Roman, and Mae Jemison, all of whom have held critical positions at NASA.
While of course the creation of such a set wouldn’t immediately improve the state of gender equality, normalizing women in Lego STEM jobs may broaden the outlook of young girls for when they make their career choices later.
As Lego’s “Ideas” policies dictate, after a proposal is submitted, it needs 10,000 supporters to move on to a review process at Lego HQ. The proposal had 8,623 signatures at time of publication with 715 days left to hit the 10,000 goal.
As the description on the mini-figure proposal reads, “Women have played critical roles throughout the history of the U.S. space program, also know as NASA or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Yet in many cases, their contributions are unknown or under-appreciated — especially as women have historically struggled to gain acceptance in the fields of [STEM].”