If you care about inspiring children with an interest in engineering and aspirations not bound by their gender, this note may bring a tear to your eye. Two tears actually, both because it is so eloquently beautiful, and because it shows that in a lot of ways we have gone backwards over the last forty years.
Lego has been criticized recently for its move to gender its toys, creating “girl’s Lego” and producing, in the words of one seven year old, female characters that “sit at home, go to the beach, and shop," while the boy characters “saved people, had jobs, even swam with sharks!”
To their credit Lego has taken this on board to some extent, with a line of women scientists, but the sad thing is that they needed to be pushed. Because there was a time when the Danish company got these things so, so right.
When reddit user fryd_ posted this image at imgur and said it came from a 1974 box of Lego, plenty of people disputed its authenticity.
However, io9 have weighed up the evidence and found it is more likely than not that this really was what Lego was telling parents back then.
Most convincingly, this is a pretty good translation of what the German version of Lego was telling parents.
The above ad from the same era went viral with people frustrated by the way Lego went backwards in this regard starting in the late 70s, a process traced by Anita Sarkeesian.
🎥 LEGO Friends - LEGO & Gender Part 1 | Video (10:30 minutes)
LEGO announced that after 4 years of intensive research, they have finally come up with a LEGO product that fulfills the desires of “how girls naturally build and play.” This new theme is called LEGO Friends and it’s a pink and purple, gender segregated, suburban wasteland populated by Barbie/Bratz style dolls. Many parents, educators, feminists, and media critics have spoken out against LEGOs attempts to separate girls into their own stereotypical isolated enclave within the LEGO universe.In part 1 of my two part LEGO and Gender series, I’ll explore how LEGO went terribly wrong with LEGO Friends and provide a brief history of LEGO’s ridiculous and slightly hilarious attempts to market to girls since the late 70’s. In part 2 I’ll delve into LEGO’s intentional strategy to market almost exclusively to boys since the mid 80’s by developing and marketing sets that are male identified and male centered. In conclusion, I’ll offer LEGO a couple of suggestions that they can consider when creating and marketing new products.
🎥 The LEGO Boys Club - Lego & Gender Part 2 | Video (13:42 minutes)
In part 1 of my two part LEGO and Gender series, I explored how LEGO went terribly wrong with LEGO Friends and provided a brief history of LEGO’s ridiculous and slightly hilarious attempts to market to girls since the late 70′s. Watch Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrmRx
…In this video, part 2, I delve into how LEGO shifted their products from their initial relatively, gender neutral building experience to a more male dominated and male identified one. The LEGO group intentionally did this in three ways: 1. Marketing exclusively to boys, 2. Producing male identified and centered themes and sets and 3. Focusing on stereotypical boys play scenarios with an emphasis on combat. The strong focus on boys has effectively kicked girls out of the LEGO club house. Keep watching until the end where I provide a few suggestions to LEGO oh how to fix their gender segregation problem.
Still, given their recent responses to criticism, maybe Lego could think about releasing a retro line with the original instructions. There might be a few children of the 70s who’d quite like to buy it for their own kids.