Research shows girls and boys perform equally well in science, technology, engineering and math while in school. But that doesn't always follow into careers in the STEM workforce where, particularly in certain fields, there's still a gender gap.
Toymaker LEGO hopes to do its part to encourage girls when it launches a new “Women of NASA” collection.
The toy set will celebrate four pioneering NASA women: Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut; Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space; computer scientist Margaret Hamilton; and astronomer Nancy Grace Roman.
The idea came through a crowdsourcing platform called LEGO Ideas. “If ideas reach a threshold of 10,000 supporters, essentially 10,000 likes, a team of LEGO professionals decide if it's something that we can make into a LEGO set”, said spokesperson Amanda Madore.
The “Women of NASA” idea quickly hit the threshold.
Madore said LEGO sets have stood the test of time, despite competing with video and computer games. They give kids hands-on practice in STEM skills,“and really teaches kids, both boys and girls, about the benefits of building, engineering, math, architecture,” said Madore.
In addition to the LEGO versions of the real-life NASA women, the new collection will include pieces to build a model of the Hubble Space telescope, the Space Shuttle Challenger and a launch pad.
LEGO is based in Denmark with five offices around the world, including a main office in Enfield, Connecticut.