Last week we told you about Disney coming to the hard-won, customer-fueled realization that girls like Star Wars, too, and that it might be a good idea to make Princess Leia toys (who knew??). Now, thanks to consumer demand, LEGO has come to a similar conclusion; the company has just announced the approval of the “Research Institute” set, which will feature a female astronomer, chemist, and a paleontologist.
A few months back, we covered the story of a little girl named Charlotte, who, dissatisfied with the limited selection of female minifigures and their stereotypical themes (beauty parlor, shopping, etc.), wrote a strongly-worded letter to LEGO, saying:
“My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”
Little Charlotte, it seems, is nowhere near alone in her strong sentiment; the idea of the Research Institute set, designed and submitted to LEGO by geochemist Ellen Kooijman, earned 10,000 supporters, allowing it to move on to the next phase of the toy company’s consideration. Kooijman said of her idea on her blog:
I had been building with LEGO bricks for 10 years since coming out of my Dark Age (LEGO-devoid period), but I had never shared any of my creations online. This project was going to be the first creation I ever shared with people other than my husband. The idea for the project came very naturally and the question how I came up with it always makes me smile. As a female scientist I had noticed two things about the available LEGO sets: a skewed male/female minifigure ratio and a rather stereotypical representation of the available female figures. It seemed logical that I would suggest a small set of female minifigures in interesting professions to make our LEGO city communities more diverse.
It appears the logic of a more diverse LEGO city was not lost on the LEGO Review Board, which analyzed the Research Institute set, approved it, and plans to release information about availability, design, and price in August.