Posted by Jesse Braunstein

LEGO for Girls? The soon to come LEGO Friends, is determined to challenge all preconceptions we have about what qualifies as a ‘boy’s toy’ and a ‘girl’s toy’.

Personally, I’ve always viewed the build it yourself, LEGO (@LEGO_Group) and K’nex type toys, as the much more male oriented ‘boy’s toys’. Maybe this was because they were only available in sets like the Bionicle’s, that were a little more, shall we say, dark and manly.

On the other side of the spectrum, call me sexist but as a child, I had no predilection to play with dolls. I didn’t find things like American Girl dolls to be fun or attractive, which was also probably because the lines available to me were unappealing simply in that they were intended for girls.

Now I’ve written about LEGO before for SheBytes, in the context of the Lord of the Rings, but this piece is much different.

LEGO is trying to break down the barriers between these ingrained plaything categories within its own company, in a very serious and interesting way.

According to a Wired piece, just like Bang and Olufsen, “LEGO has spent…years researching, designing and testing…in hopes of avoiding the errors of previous attempts to appeal to girls.”

With its promising LEGO Friends sets, I think the time the company spent researching and redrawing a product it thought it new well, has a big shot at success for two main reasons:

  • First off, what LEGO clearly reveals that it realized, is that girls are much more inclined than boys to focus on the actual LEGO figurines (I always called them LEGO-people). For me personally, I remember that in my LEGO heyday, I was much more involved with thinking, building and designing the actual structures the bricks permitted me to, with the LEGO-men (there are notably few LEGO-women), as secondary to the play experience. Because girls usually associate themselves and interact with, their toys on a personal and human to human level (like with dolls), LEGO has created personalities, backstories and really brought to life characters girls can get to know.
  • Secondly, LEGO is set on releasing their new female focused figures post-Christmas. While this may sound like a generally bad idea for any product release, especially a toy release, LEGO “is putting a ridiculous amount of money into marketing…and don’t want it to get lost amongst all the other toys”. This simple move says a lot about the future of this new line. Although this move can potentially boost LEGO profit immensely, as they will able to sell to the other half of the world, the company is clearly not being profit centered. They are backing something wholeheartedly, which shows through their dedication to thoughtful design and execution.

What I’ve been wondering about particularly, is what kind of impact LEGO Friends can have, down the road on women and their career choices. There is a significant dearth of women in prominent and growing fields like technology, engineering and architecture.

Girls are traditionally not drawn into these types of jobs because they don’t perceive them as particularly rewarding.

But, I believe that if this product is a success, it can radically change the way women perceive the world.

And, to me, few things are as rewarding as combining creativity and LEGO.

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