September 4, 2013
Using Toys To Break Stereotypes, Lego Releases First Female Scientist Minifig
[ Watch the Video: LEGO Is Letting Go Of Stereotypes ]
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The Series 11 of Lego 'minifigs' (or miniature figures) has just been released, and it’s important for one reason: it contains the first named female scientist figure ever molded from Lego plastic. She’s been given the name Professor C. Bodin and, ever toting two Erlenmeyer flasks, she marks the first departure from the male dominated Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) world of minifigs.
Female minifigs have been in production for many years of course, but often in the vein of professor Bodin’s cousins — Pretzel Girl and Diner Waitress. The packs of Series 11 minifigs are being sold in stores and online and contain only one minifig, meaning those looking specifically for Professor Bodin will need to handle each package to feel the Erlenmeyer flasks or look for the unique bump code on the back of the package.
Professor Bodin’s biography on the Lego website begins with the curious thought: “I wonder what will happen if I put THIS together with THAT…” According to her bio, Bodin won the “coveted Nobrick Prize for her discovery of the theoretical System/Duplo Interface.”
“Thanks to the Scientist’s tireless research, Minifigures that have misplaced their legs can now attach new pieces to let them swim like fish, slither like snakes, and stomp around like robots. Her studies of a certain outer dimension have even perfected a method for swapping body parts at will!” The world’s first female lego scientist is joined by Lady Robot, a Yeti, a Saxophone Player, Constable, Island Warrior and a Gingerbread Man in Series 11.
According to Scientific American's detailed history of Lego minifigs, female Minifigs have always been something of a novelty. The first lady Minifig, a doctor, was released in their 1978 debut. Though the first sets of iconic plastic toys did not promote many STEM occupations, recent sets have increasingly focused on science-related jobs.
And just as the case remains in the real world, the majority of these roles have been and continue to be filled with male figurines. Though there has been some progress in this area - Professor Bodin joins a female surgeon minifig - many other female minifigs continue to mirror old gender-profession stereotypes.
Lego has often been credited with inspiring children to choose jobs in the STEM fields. It’s a role Lego has embraced with their robotics platform, Mindstorms EV3. The latest evolution of this platform integrates a social media aspect, letting builders share their creations and ideas with one another.
A new mobile app will also let Mindstorm builders control their robotic creations with their smartphones, while a new web app will let them build 3D models of these robots directly in their web browsers.