Wired Cover Girl And Engineer Makes Her Own ‘Girl’ LEGOs, No Nail Salon Included
Those sexist LEGOs may be flying off the shelves, but that doesn’t mean that the controversy surrounding the messages that they give girls are quelling. Limor Fried, an engineer at Adafruit Industries and Wired cover girl in April 2011, designed her own LEGO set “for girls.” And let’s just say, the makeup and jacuzzis didn’t quite make it.
The smart DIY queen was inspired to create the set, entitled “Ladyada’s Workshop”, based on her very own career as an electrical engineer:
“After I saw the controversies around ‘Lego for girls,’ I thought about what type of Lego set I would have enjoyed as a kid, and thought about one I would have liked to imagine myself in as young maker,” Fried told CNET. “So instead of complaining about the current state of play sets which aren’t quite inspiring for young girls who may want to be engineers, we worked with (Lego artist Bruce Lowell) to make a workshop like the one I have here at Adafruit. I do this for a living each day and I think it’s important that kids can actually see someone in real-life that is doing engineering so they can imagine themselves doing this too.”
Fried explains on the Adafruit website that the design reflects what she uses everyday, including “computers, pick-and-place machine, laser cutter, [and] soldering station.” The executive director of SPARK, the organization that got LEGO to fess up to how problematic those “Friends” playsets were, approves the design, saying:
“[Fried’s version is] exactly what we were advocating in our petition, that Lego should create Lego sets where girls are active, are engineers, and leaders, and not playing stereotypical girl roles.”
While the immediate differences between Fried’s version and the lipstick-tastic LEGOs may be the coloring, the sewing machine and laptop computer give girls a little more to think about than say this. Barettes, hair brushes, and a place to put your purse:
Fried’s set also hearkens back to LEGO’s original branding, as although her workshop is “for girls,” many a little boy probably wouldn’t mind messing around with those laser cutters too. The play set could revisit LEGO’s history of cross-gendered play, a concern pointed out by Peggy Orenstein when contesting the “Friends” set.
The best part of Fried’s invention is that it may not just exist as a reinterpretation of what LEGO has been marketing to our daughters. She has entered “Ladyada’s Workshop” in LEGO Cuusoo, a leg of the website that allows LEGO fans to put their own designs to a vote. Those projects that achieve 10,000 votes are reviewed for an actual chance to become a purchasable set — meaning that if Fried’s project surveys well, she may have provided the company with the “Friends” alternative that they sorely need.
CNET reports that at present, LEGO is reviewing Fried’s project before accepting votes. I know that I have my vote ready.