Women of NASA – in LEGO!


Credit: Maia Weinstock, LEGO Ideas

If you have followed my blog for even the shortest period of time, you might of heard me ramble on about the issues with gendered toys and how these can affect how children interact with science.

Toys are heavily gendered and are marketing to boys and girls – ultimately separating the types of toys that girls and boys are likely to play with. Boys are significantly more likely to own toys which involve building or problem solving, whereas girls are significantly more likely to own toys which are related to fashion, beauty or homemaking.

Science toys are often also gendered, with the science toys for girls often revolving around beauty or make up, rather than the traditional chemistry or physics sets which are marketed towards young boys. How great would it be if a large toy chain would make a science toy which featured female scientists? Well – it could be on the horizon.

A set of unique LEGO figurines had been submitted to LEGO Ideas to be potentially be made into actual toys, and I am very excited about them. Maia Weinstock submitted her plan for a set of LEGO figures which would feature five notable NASA pioneers, helping to educate adults and kids about women in STEM history.

The sets would feature:

Margaret Hamilton, computer scientist: While working at MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s, Hamilton developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software.

Katherine Johnson, mathematician and space scientist: A longtime NASA researcher, Johnson is best known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs — including the Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the moon.

Sally Ride, astronaut, physicist, and educator: A physicist by training, Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. After retiring as a NASA astronaut, she founded an educational company focusing on encouraging children — especially girls — to pursue the sciences.

Nancy Grace Roman, astronomer: One of the first female executives at NASA, Roman is known to many as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. She also developed NASA’s astronomy research program.

Mae Jemison, astronaut, physician, and entrepreneur: Trained as a medical doctor, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space in 1992. After retiring from NASA, Jemison established a company that develops new technologies and encourages students in the sciences.

It would be fantastic be to have a set of toys which promote science to girls, depict amazing women in STEM and promote the history of women in science (who are often forgotten) – let alone those toys to be made by one of the most famous toy companies in the world.

If you want to see these sets made, you need to vote for them! Vote for them here.


Author: Alice Gray

STEM-inist blogger hoping to raise awareness for the issues facing women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

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