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New Lego Play Kit Features Women In Roles Of 3 Scientists


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.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.