Careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) represent the fastest-growing sector; however, women are severely underrepresented in these fields. A new LEGO set seeks to inspire young girls to pursue education in the STEM fields.

LEGO launched a set of female scientist Minifigs in August 2014. The set includes a paleontologist, an astronomer, and a chemist, and each comes with her own small scene. The new set was part of a contest that put six potential LEGO sets to a vote on social media. Geoscientist Ellen Kooijman submitted the winning idea.

The set has been so well-received that it sold out at most stores and on Lego’s website. In fact, the sets have been listed on Amazon.com at triple the suggested retail price of $19.99. However, as the set was fan-created, it was only available for a limited time and LEGO said it does not plan to reproduce it. A petition on Change.org is calling for LEGO to make the female scientist Minifigs permanent. As of August 29, 2014, it had generated more than 2,420 supporters.

The decision to pursue a career in STEM is typically made long before college or even high school. From a young age, boys receive encouragement from direct advice, social cues, the media, and even their toys to study topics in these fields, while girls are encouraged to focus elsewhere.

Consumers seem to be increasingly on the lookout for toys and games that shun gender stereotypes, especially when it comes to encouraging young girls to broaden their horizons.

Based on the success of the female scientist Minifigs, LEGO (and its competitors) would do well to launch other products that show female and male characters breaking gender roles.

To learn more about Mintel’s Traditional Toys and Games – US – April 2014 report, click here.

Lauren Bonetto is a consumer analyst at Mintel with expertise across a wide variety of sectors and topics, ranging from food & drink to travel.

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