Lifestyle & Belief

LEGO's new line of female scientists features an astronomer and a paleontologist

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Example of LEGO "Research Institute" created by Ellen Kooijman

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Alatariel

LEGO is planning to launch a new line of products featuring female scientists.

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The series includes an astronomer with a telescope, a palaeontologist with a dinosaur skeleton and a chemist in a lab.

The toy collection was designed and submitted to the Danish toy company by Ellen Kooijman.

Kooijman is an isotope geochemist in Stockholm, Sweden. She also is a huge LEGO fan.

Kooijman designed the toy set as part of the LEGO Ideas campaign.

LEGO Ideas is a site where enthusiasts can submit and vote on ideas for sets they want to see available in toy stores.

When a project receives 10,000 votes, it's reviewed by a board made up of set designers and marketing representatives.

After testing the concepts for stability, playability, safety and market fit, the board selects one idea to become the next Ideas product.

Kooijman’s female science set will be marketed as the "Research Institute" collection.

Emily Grossman, a molecular biologist who now teaches science, has seen images of the LEGO prototypes.

"If you think about as a child, you don't ask questions about what goes on around you," she says. "You just look at what's in front of you and you absorb that into your consciousness. So children will now be growing up absorbing the fact that it's just as common and just as cool and just as interesting for women to be doing these classically male represented, dominated science jobs."

LEGO has been criticized in the past for its gender-based marketing tactics.

The company created a set of building blocks in 2011 geared for girls called LEGO Friends.

It featured thin female figurines that lock into pastel-painted settings such as a beauty salon and a bakery.

But even these new figurines have been the criticized for making women look a little manly.

“People have been commenting, 'Oh, they've got buns on their heads and they look a little bit conservative."' said Grossman. "But of course they do. When you are working in a chemistry lab as anyone knows, as I did in my Ph.D, you do have to look neat and tidy. You have to have your hair pulled back so nothing is in the way. Then, of course, you take it off and you let your hair down and you look sexy and feminine in the evening."

In her project proposal, creator Ellen Kooijman wrote: "The motto of these scientists is clear: explore the world and beyond!"

When her female scientists set is released later this year, Kooijman will receive a cut of the product's sales.