Gendering LEGO


On a friend’s Facebook wall the other day, the topic of geek girls needing to defend their geekiness came up, and the topic shifted to gendered LEGO sets. Even having had this conversation many times, I noticed something on the LEGO site that I hadn’t previously.

Go look at just the Bricks & More sets. Look at  whether the “themed sets” and “starter sets” include male or female minifigures, or both.

Male Minifigures Only:

Fun With Vehicles
Road Construction
Monster Trucks
My First LEGO Set (example creation is a construction site)
Blue Suitcase (gas station)
Fire Station
Brick Box
another My First LEGO Set (example creation is a house, a car and a helicopter)
Large Brick Box

Male and Female Minifigures:

Safari (It’s not just nursery themes that consider elephants and giraffes gender-neutral)

Female Minifigures Only:

Pink Suitcase (house)
Pink Brick Box
Large Pink Brick Box

Even the “coordinated” sets Pink Suitcase and Blue Suitcase show a huge difference: The “boy” set is travel-themed, while the “girl” set is home-themed.

And then there’s what the LEGO figures are shaped and what they’re wearing: In nearly every case, the males are blocky, while the female figures have cinched-in waists and tight, busty shirts.

If all that isn’t gender-stereotyped enough, look at the sample LEGO creations and see what the male and female figures are holding or doing. Here are my observations:

Male minifigures (holding or doing):

Gas nozzle
Construction materials
Magnifying glass (oil can sitting to one side)
Driving escape vehicle
Running to police car
Piloting plane
Driving monster trucks
Working crane controls
Driving car

Female minifigures (holding or doing):

Pink glass
Plate of cookies
Horse brush
Looking at elephant
Standing still at back bumper of an empty truck
Bicycling (arriving at friend’s house for a pink beverage)

So boys fix things, drive things, take pictures, kill things, build things, lift things, fly things, pump gas and put out fires.

Girls? They feed things, admire things and make things pretty.

Photo from Flickr user Dan Goodwin under license from Creative Commons 2.0