Toy maker LEGO could soon make mini figures honoring female astronauts and scientists of NASA if a proposal to do so gains traction.
Mattel’s female superhero collection and Lego’s short-lived but successful limited-edition female scientist line showed there’s demand for female figurines. With the space-themed collection, science writer and Lego enthusiast Maia Weinstock—who created a Legal Justice League with the US Supreme Court’s women—wants to recognize the women who have played many critical roles at NASA.
The project intends to highlight women who have “struggled to gain acceptance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).” Weinstock contributed her designs to the Lego Ideas program with the hope that the company will create a ‘Women of NASA’ collection. For the line to have a shot at being realized, the program requires 10,000 people to show support. The community-collaborative initiative, which launched in 2008, allows fans to contribute Lego set designs and when backed by enough supporters, the company reviews and and chooses products to launch.
Research shows that children as young as nine months old prefer to play with toys of their own gender—by that measure, female role models are severely lacking in the land of toys. A long time proponent of gender equality, Lego can provide “an educational building experience to help young ones and adults alike learn about the history of women in STEM,” Weinstock writes. The petition hand-picked five NASA pioneers to celebrate (the descriptions are from Weinstock):
Katherine Johnson, mathematician and space scientist: A longtime NASA researcher, Johnson is best known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs — including the Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the moon.
Sally Ride, astronaut, physicist, and educator: A physicist by training, Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. After retiring as a NASA astronaut, she founded an educational company focusing on encouraging children — especially girls — to pursue the sciences.
Mae Jemison, astronaut, physician, and entrepreneur: Trained as a medical doctor, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space in 1992. After retiring from NASA, Jemison established a company that develops new technologies and encourages students in the sciences.
Margaret Hamilton, computer scientist: While working at MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s, Hamilton developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software.
Nancy Grace Roman, astronomer: One of the first female executives at NASA, Roman is known to many as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. She also developed NASA’s astronomy research program.