The company is framing their new line for girls with “science.” Executives are going to great lengths to explain that the line is based on research, using anthropologists who spent time with girls in their homes. The frame gives the company an excuse for reproducing the same old gender stereotypes that we see throughout our culture. They can shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, what are we to do? This is what girls want.” In this way they are trying to make it clear that they shouldn’t be held accountable for the messages their products send.
But it’s no accident that girls feel alienated from Lego.
According to Business Week, Lego has spent most of the last decade focusing their products on boys. They have deliberately designed products that they expect will appeal to boys and included boys almost exclusively in their marketing material. Today Legos are shelved in the boy aisle is most toy stores.
So, basically, what Lego has done over the last few decades is take a truly wonderful gender-neutral toy, infuse it with boyness, and tell every kid who’ll listen that the toy is not-for-girls. Now, stuck with only 50% of the kid market, they’re going after girls by overcompensating. And, to top it all off, they’re shaking their heads and doing “science” to try to figure out girls, as if they’re some strange variant of human that regular humans just can’t get their head around.
In fact, girls don’t feel like the toy is for them because Lego has done everything in its power to ensure that they will not.
I don’t want to make a mountain of a mole hill but I don’t think moves like this should be ignored either. The section of this article that I quoted is key in my opinion.