Fairygodboss

NASA needs women, and kids (and their parents) who like Legos will soon get that message.

Joining a slew of other companies that are committed to closing the gender gap in STEM fields -- among them GE and Girls Who Code -- Lego announced on Feb. 28 that it will soon release a new set of minifigures that represent five trailblazing women whose contributions to NASA have been largely unrecognized.  

We applaud all companies that are taking steps to close the STEM gender gap, and it’s particularly exciting to see Lego targeting such young kids with this mission. Moreover, it’s nice to know that some amazing women will finally be getting more (long overdue) recognition for their groundbreaking work.

The Lego set will include Katherine Johnson, 98, who was depicted in the Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures.” A space scientist, Johnson is known for calculating the trajectories for many flights from Project Mercury, as well as the Apollo 11 flight.

Lego is also creating figures that illustrate Sally Ride, the first American woman to go to space; Margaret Hamilton, 80, a computer scientist who worked on software for Apollo flights; Nancy Grace Roman, 91, an astronomer who helped plan that Hubble Space Telescope; and Mae Jemison, 60, a physician and astronaut who was the first African-American woman to go to space in 1992.

According to Quartz, MIT News science writer and deputy editor Maia Weinstock came up with the idea for these Lego figures. After she submitted it to the Lego Ideas program, which calls for suggestions for new toys, the idea got 10,000, beating 11 other contenders.

A Lego blog post states: “As a science editor and writer, with a strong personal interest for space exploration as well as the history of women in science and engineering, Maia Weinstock’s Women of NASA project was a way for her to celebrate accomplished women in the STEM professions. In particular those who’ve made a big impact through their work at NASA.

“We’re really excited to be able to introduce Maia’s Women of NASA set for its inspirational value as well as build and play experience.”

Quartz reports that “Lego has been pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to providing young children the opportunity to see themselves as anything they want, no matter their gender: a 1974 pamphlet from Lego reads, ‘The urge to create is equally strong in all child. Boys and girls. It’s imagination that counts…A lot of boys like dollhouses, they’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dollhouses.’”

Lego will announce the new set’s official release date in late 2017 or early 2018.

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