LEGO is releasing a line of female scientist figurines! This is fantastic news; as I mentioned in a previous post, until the representation of women in media (including LEGO sets) changes drastically, we will not eliminate extant gender inequalities. I will be ordering one of these sets for every little girl I know! I resoundingly second the sentiment of one 7-year-old, quoted below, who wrote to LEGO imploring them to allow women to go on more "adventures." Normalizing girls playing with LEGO is also a huge side-benefit of this campaign: sometimes we want to create giant space-ships and dinosaurs, too.
On another note, the author of the article cited below is bang-on (and a great advocate for women in science) except in one particular: in her open letter to LEGO, she appeals to the "Flying Spaghetti Monster", a religious-parody effort engendered by the highly polarized battle over whether or not evolution must needs be a mandatory part of school curricula in the United States. Calling all science writers: please cease & desist with the sweeping "religion versus science" language. This ''battle'' is a tired remnant of the Enlightenment and the subsequent reactionary sentiment it produced in the 18thC, and has no place in "enlightened" science-religion dialogue. At best, the use of such confrontational language achieves nothing except the prompting of other fundamentalist adherents of scientism to give themselves a satisfied pat on the back. At worst, it (1) confuses a generation of youth who are being given the impression that they cannot be scientists unless they forgo religion entirely - to the point of making a mockery of it, even - and (2) incites to further reactionary fervour those religious fundamentalists who also (mistakenly) think science and religion are mutually exclusive. In all cases, it's deepening the trench on an imaginary line. And I think divisions are harmful (unless they be the mathematical variety).
Incidentally, a majority of the world's Christians (for example, the world's 1.2 billion Catholics) wholeheartedly acknowledge scientific advancements, including the theory of evolution. That religion and science can have a harmonious and productive relationship is evidenced by many of the world's great scientists, from Isaac Newton (father of... well, Physics) to Father Georges Lemaitre (father of the Big Bang theory). In an article that was otherwise so inspiring, I was disheartened to read this sardonic jab at the overwhelming majority of the global population, as I found it alienating and unproductive, perpetuating an attitude of divisiveness I lament.
“Numerous sources suggest you will be releasing a scientist in Series 11 (gender as yet unspecified),” I wrote in an open letter to the company around this time last year. “For the love of the FSM, please do the right thing.” They did, and on September 1, 2013, the company released the first-ever female lab scientist, a clear nod to calls for more female minifigures in regular LEGO offerings outside of the Friends world. The pressure didn’t stop there. In February, a 7-year-old wrote an adorable message noting LEGO’s gender issues and asking the company to “make more lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!”