Lego kicked off Women's History Month with some major news. The Danish building-block company announced that it's releasing a Women of NASA set that's sure to inspire a whole new generation. Think of them as not-so-hidden (mini)figures. And while this is a literally tiny step for humankind, it's certainly one way to get female astronauts (at least some of) the recognition they deserve. The new set will include Margaret Hamilton, Katherine Johnson, Sally Ride, Nancy Grace Roman, and Mae Jemison minifigs, a.k.a. Lego people — along with accompanying accessories.
HowStuffWorks reports that MIT news editor and Lego enthusiast Maia Weinstock submitted the Women of NASA set to Lego as part of the company's thrice-yearly Lego Ideas competition.
"This proposed set celebrates five notable NASA pioneers and provides an educational building experience to help young ones and adults alike learn about the history of women in STEM," Weinstock wrote in the proposal she sent to Lego Ideas.
After receiving the requisite 10,000 votes (Weinstock shared her idea on social media last July), the set went to the Lego Ideas review board — and passed. The Women of NASA got chosen over a log cabin inspired by Little House on the Prairie, a red Lamborghini, and a rocket from the film Spaceballs.
"Toys are hugely important in terms of providing a guide as to what girls are expected to be when they grow up," Weinstock told NBC News. "And this applies to both girls and boys, I might add: It's also important for boys to see that this is normal and expected. If you only show men as scientists, that has a definite impression, on all kids."
Lego marketing manager Lise Dydensborg announced the news in a video. "We are really excited to be able to introduce Maia's Women of NASA set for its fun and educational value as well as its build and play experience," she said. "Lego set designers are already working hard on the production model of the Women of NASA set."
The Women of NASA set comes at a very opportune time. Hidden Figures, the story of three African-American female NASA mathematicians, was up for a slew of awards this year. Katherine Johnson, who was depicted by Taraji P. Henson in the film and is included in the Lego set, even took the stage at the Academy Awards. And last week, the White House announced two new initiatives to get girls involved in STEM fields: The INSPIRE Act will send NASA staffers to work with K-12 girls, and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act will have the National Science Foundation expand support for females in STEM research.
The Lego Women of NASA set will be available this coming winter or early 2018.
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