The Faces of LEGO 2021: Setting A Baseline For Gender Representation In Marketing ‘Hero Shots’

Earlier this week, the LEGO Group celebrated the UN’s International day of the Girl by releasing new research revealing that girls are ready to break free from traditional gender stereotypes, while the rest of society perpetuates these stereotypes. I shall post the press release at the end of this article.

Essentially, girls are ready to take on most of the activities in society, but there are societal stereotypes that result in both parents and their male peers potentially holding them back. This can potentially influence the career paths that they may embark on as they grow up.

Following up from this information, The LEGO Group have committed to making LEGO Play more inclusive, and ensuring that children’s creative ambitions are not limited by gender stereotypes:

“We know there is work to do which is why from 2021 we will work closely with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and UNICEF to ensure LEGO products and marketing are accessible to all and free of gender bias and harmful stereotypes.”

“We acknowledge our responsibility in having contributed to gender stereotypes over the years, which is why we’re actively addressing the challenges that gender biases create and we’re committed more than ever to do our bit to put it right. “

In this article, I will aim to look at the current gender biases present in the Hero Shots as depicted on LEGO.com in October 2021.

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Representation In Licenced LEGO® Themes with a Contemporary Cinematic Narrative II: LEGO® Harry Potter™

This is not a post specifically about LEGO® Harry Potter™. This is a post regarding the way in which the LEGO Group have chosen to represent female characters over time. I have chosen to use this theme, as it has had 2 distinct phases of release: first in 2001-2012, a period that ran in parallel with the release of the Harry Potter movies, while the second began in 2018, and continues to this day.

This my the second article is a series, looking at gender distribution of minifigures in licensed themes – themes where the LEGO Group has little say over the content of the source material. The first, relating to such trends in LEGO Star Wars sets can be found here

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Living with DiverCITY: changing depictions of gender roles with LEGO minifigures in the post-Friends era.

This post has been a while coming.  It’s a bit long. It may take a while to read…best get a drink.

Sorry about that!

 

When I was a boy, and we rode dinosaurs to school, life was a little more simple than it is today. When the first LEGO mini figures were introduced, they were people.  Not really men or women, just people.  Their faces all looked the same: depicting the now classic smiley face.  The only attempts to define gender, in terms of appearance, came in the form of the hair piece they had on if they were not wearing a hat!  In that first year there were four ‘female’ mini figures released: they had hair with pigtails. If they were wearing a hat, you could quite happily identify that knight, policeman or astronaut as male or female as you should choose.

series1minifig
The designers have only attempted to define the gender of one of these minifigures.

Two of these ‘people with hair, defining their gender as female’ came  as the only figure in their sets, along with vehicles: one an ambulance (606) and one a ‘Red Cross’ car(623). Another worked at the service station (376) and the final one came with a home (377). There was also a female passenger with a railway carriage. in 1979, the first classic ‘male’ minifigure hair appeared. In this first year, printed torsos were still a year or two away, and defining your minifigure’s identity came down to the sticker that you placed on the torso piece.

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