Lego's female scientist turns bunsen burner on stereotypes
Danish toy company's latest attempt to address gender issues hailed by women scientists
SHE'S only a few centimetres tall, but the Scientist - a new mini-figure from Danish toy company Lego - has been hailed as a stereotype-busting breakthrough.
Lego has an unhappy history when it comes to gender issues. For years, it was accused of stereotyping because it marketed its building bricks primarily at boys. When it tried to shift that perception in late 2012 by vowing to "deliver meaningful play experiences to girls worldwide," the plan backfired spectacularly.
LEGO Friends, a product range aimed at girls "ages 5 and up" centred around five friends named Olivia, Mia, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma whose favourite haunts were the Butterfly Beauty Shop and the City Park Café. The plastic girls and their "predominantly pink and purple" world, were roundly panned for promoting outdated gender roles, says NBC News.
Enter the Scientist, a no-nonsense boffin who wears a bob, a white lab coat and glasses. Her name tag identifies her as Professor C. Bodin and she's clutching two Erlenmeyer flasks filled with coloured liquid.
Professor Bodin is at the top of her game. Her biography reveals she's a winner of the "coveted Nobrick Prize for her discovery of the theoretical System/DUPLO Interface."
Elizabeth Sweet, a PhD student at the University of California, welcomed Lego's first female scientist. "It portrays a woman in a STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] career without resorting to gender stereotyping by making her pink or calling her a ‘lady scientist'," she told LiveScience.
Meanwhile, Scientific American's Maia Weinstock said Bodin would be an inspiration for girls interested a variety of scientific disciplines. "She might look like a chemist, but reading her official biography, one gets the sense she could equally be a biologist, biophysicist, materials engineer, theoretical physicist, or roboticist," Weinstock said. "Let us hope that this is only the beginning." ·