GMA News Online

Girl hackers? Why not, says Lego

May 24, 2012 6:48pm
Will international toymaker Lego help break the sterotype gender roles for girls and portray them as hackers in its future playsets?
Tech site CNET reported a female hacker and her business partner designed a proposed Lego set featuring a female hacker and tools such as computers and laser cutters.
Fried and business partner Phillip Torrone worked on "Ladyada's Workshop," a Lego set that features Ladyada - Fried's hacker alter ego - in her workshop, which includes:
  • a pick-and-place machine
  • a laser cutter
  • a sewing machine
  • a soldering station
  • a computer
  • a microscope
  • shelves of parts and packages.
It even includes Ladyada's cat Mosfet.
Fried, a Massachussetts Institute of Technology Media Lab alum, runs open-source hardware developer Adafruit Industries.
"After I saw the controversies around 'Lego for girls,' I thought about what type of Lego set I would have enjoyed as a kid, and thought about one I would have liked to imagine myself in as young maker," Fried told CNET.
"So instead of complaining about the current state of play sets which aren't quite inspiring for young girls who may want to be engineers, we worked with (Lego artist Bruce Lowell) to make a workshop like the one I have here at Adafruit. I do this for a living each day and I think it's important that kids can actually see someone in real-life that is doing engineering so they can imagine themselves doing this too."
Lego initiative
CNET said Fried is aiming to have Lego produce the playset through the "Lego Cuusoo" initiative.
Under the initiative, Lego can make any community-created set that gets 10,000 votes on its Web site.
The CNET report said the proposed playset was featured on the cover of Bloomberg Business Week last year.
It drew worldwide attention as Lego's first major attempt at showcasing girls in a new set.
"Still, many Lego fans were upset that the company had focused on well-worn stereotypes and had ignored the modern reality that girls can do pretty much anything they want, whether or not there's pink or purple involved," CNET said.
On the other hand, Fried was on the cover of "Wired" magazine's DIY issue last year.
Meanwhile, Dana Edell, executive director of Spark a Movement, said the Ladyada's Workshop project is "exactly what we were advocating in our petition, that Lego should create Lego sets where girls are active, are engineers, and leaders, and not playing stereotypical girl roles." — TJD, GMA News
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