Business
3:20 am
Mon August 4, 2014

New Lego Play Kit Features Women In Roles Of 3 Scientists

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 10:13 am

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Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's Business News begins with gender parody and the toy box. It's a story about Legos, which have brought in billions of dollars from a consumer base that is seen as mostly male boys. But now, the Danish toy company that makes Legos is renewing its push to appeal to girls with a new play set that includes three female scientists. NPR's Sam Sanders has the story.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Earlier this year, Lego was the target of online petitions after a 7-year-old named Charlotte Benjamin wrote a letter to Lego about the toys they make for girls.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Reading) All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach and shop. But the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, even swam with sharks.

SANDERS: It went viral. Just months later, Lego releases its Research Institute with three women doctors - a paleontologist, an astronomer and a chemist. Seems that letter did a lot. But the idea for these new toys was actually around before Charlotte's complaint. In 2012, Ellen Kooijman, a scientist from Switzerland, sent a pitch to Lego Ideas, a site where people can propose new Lego sets. Her pitch got enough votes to go into production well before the letter came out.

Maia Weinstock is a science journalist who works at MIT. She's written about Lego and gender. She say whatever led to these new toys, it makes Lego look good.

MAIA WEINSTOCK: I do think that they are listening to people, and that's more than you can say for some companies. So I look forward to more good things from them.

SANDERS: And Weinstock says you better get your set quick.

WEINSTOCK: Lego actually limits how many you can buy at any one time. Bring a friend to the store.

SANDERS: The set is already out of stock online. Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.