Last week, a letter from 7-year-old Charlotte Benjamin addressed to the Lego company garnered a lot of attention and became a social-media sensation. So, what did Charlotte have to say that attracted such interest? She took Lego to task for skewing its products toward boys.
"I love Legos but I don't like that there are more Lego boy people and barely any Lego girls," the young Lego fan wrote. She also shares her observations that Lego girl toys just go to the beach and have no jobs, while Lego boy toys get to go on adventures, save people, and swim with sharks.
Charlotte has a point. This is not a new issue when it comes to Lego, but it's worth revisiting.
Lego added its own response to the gender toy discussion, titled "Lego Group commentary on its Female Lego Minifigures offering." It reads, "We believe that Lego play appeals to children of both genders and all ages." It continues with, "Lego play has often been more appealing to boys, but we have been very focused on including more female characters and themes that invite even more girls to build, and in the last few years, we are thrilled that we have dramatically increased the number of girls who are choosing to build."
Lego acknowledges its preponderance of male characters and gives shout-outs to a few of its female characters. Here's the thing. Lego has an opportunity to really back this statement up. There's a relevant project on the CUUSOO site, a fan-oriented community where builders can share custom sets, gather votes, and have a chance at their projects turning into real Lego kits.
The project is a female minifigure set currently under review for possible production. It has nothing to do with beaches or the color pink. It's a set of female scientists, including an astronomer, a paleontologist, and a laboratory worker. It's a bunch of ladies doing awesome science stuff, just like real women scientists. The designs were created by CUUSOO user "Alatariel" back in 2012, but just recently entered Lego's official review process.
Lego already has a token Erlenmeyer flask-toting female-scientist minifig, Professor C. Bodin. The professor could really use some company.
On behalf of Charlotte, girls, women, men, and boys everywhere, I'm asking Lego to get off the fence and make the decision to produce the female-scientist set. I'm pledging my dollars to go out and buy it as soon as it hits shelves, and I'm betting I'm not the only one.
Lego was a big part of my childhood. My brother and I built whole cities and societies together. Interestingly enough, we rarely played with minifigs. Instead, we created our own creatures. They all had standard shapes, but they were pretty much gender-neutral. They weren't slotted into predefined roles where boy figures got to fight battles and girl figures got to sit in a cafe sipping skinny mocha latte frappes. Imagination should have free reign in the Lego realm. But, sometimes, like for Charlotte, we want toys we can relate to.
So don't worry, Lego. A few lady scientists won't hurt your standing with the boys you like to appeal to, but it may just open the door a little bit wider for the girls you say you want to welcome in. Extend that welcome. Make the scientist set.