• One woman has proposed to Lego a new series of figurines, which she hopes will encourage young girls to pursue careers in science when they grow up. (Facebook)
One woman has designed a new set of Lego figurines, which she hopes will encourage young girls to pursue careers in science.
By
Shami Sivasubramanian

28 Jul 2016 - 3:25 PM  UPDATED 28 Jul 2016 - 3:26 PM

Maia Weinstock, a science writer, researcher, and deputy editor at MIT News, has always felt passionate about encouraging female participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) career sectors. 

As her latest effort in this area, Weinstock has designed a Women of NASA set of Lego figurines - a celebration of "five notable NASA pioneers".

"Girls are discouraged along the way through a series of barriers," Weinstock told Upworthy.

"This starts from the day they're born, or even before they're born — parents set expectations for how they treat boys differently from girls."

Though Weinstock works in the US, where she finds the gender gap to be growing, as of 2011 only 28 per cent of STEM jobs in the Australian workforce are held by women.

Weinstock also says it’s important to develop toys for young children that defy limiting stereotypes, since children can begin identifying stereotypes by the age of three. If left unaddressed, these stereotypes can influence how they treat people, and how they picture themselves in relation to that.

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Last year, Weinstock designed a Lego series that featured an all-female US Supreme Court bench, to once again encourage young girls and boys to dream big.

 

 

"My LEGO proposal certainly isn't going to completely change the equation," said Weinstock. "But I do think it would help at the earliest, most impressionable stages.

The Lego set features five women scientists, mathematicians, and executives who have made great contributions to the fields of space exploration over the last century. They are:

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space. She is a trained medical doctor.

Margaret Hamilton, software designer to developed in-flight software used in the Apollo moon missions.

Nancy Roman, who helped plan the Hubble Space Telescope project. She was one of the first female executives at NASA.

And Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who helped calculate trajectories  for both the Mercury and Apollo missions.

Currently Weinstock’s designs are only at the proposal stage, and they need to gain 10,000 supporters on the Lego Ideas page to become reality. With 5776 supporters already, and public support from NASA and UN, she hopes to see her figurines on toy store shelves soon.  

"We need to value women in positions of power as role models," said Weinstock.

"Giving girls toys that show them what they can be is one way to do that. But it's also extremely important for boys to see females in these roles when they go to toy stores, so that it's expected that men and women can and should be a part of the same fields."

To find out more about Women of NASA, check out the official project page

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