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Arts & Life

LEGO characters stereotype women, says Ann Arbor Girl Scout troop

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Girl Scouts of Michigan

An Ann Arbor area Girl Scout troop  wants the makers of LEGOs to change how their toys portray women.

Lizzy Blackwell, a member of Troop 40466 and now a seventh grader,  said that some of the girls have enjoyed playing with LEGOs, but they noticed a lot of gender stereotyping in them.   

Blackwell said it's a problem that LEGO's action series  characters – like police, superheroes, pilots, and construction workers – are all male. "I'd like to see them portrayed in an equal way with women being shown as being just as capable as men to do these sorts of things," she said.

Blackwell said LEGO's Friend line has female characters. But the line is about cooking and home decorating, the figures are mostly pink, and their legs don't move. 

The troop members decided to do something about what they felt is stereotyping discouraging to young girls. 

They created a survey with questions like:  Should LEGO's Adventure series  include female characters? And, should female LEGOs  be shown in occupations that have been traditionally male?  The girls received 267 completed surveys, and the responses were resoundingly yes.

The troop of nine sixth graders presented their findings and their concerns last summer to Mitchell Lechowski, the manager of Chicago's LEGO store at Water Tower Place.  Lechowski said he was impressed by the girls' presentation and has forwarded their concerns "up the ladder."

Margie Warrick, leader of Troop 40466, said the LEGO project was initiated and carried out by the girls in the troop.  They selected the project for the Cadette troop's Media Journey. Warrick said the Journey series are intended to help girl scouts  provide service to their communities and to learn important leadership skills.

-- Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio News