Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My letter to the Legos company regarding their lack of girl-focused products

I am writing to let you know of the frustration I have experienced, as a parent, with your product selection. I am the proud father of two young girls, ages 2 & 4. My 4 year old has recently discovered the extreme joy and satisfaction of Legos.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of your products are either specifically geared towards boys (star wars, space action, indiana jones, etc.), or gender-neutral, but with a distinct bias towards boys (city, race cars & helicopters, etc.).

Strict gendering of toys is nothing new, and Lego has often been at the forefront of positive representations and role-models for children. But the reality is that girls are generally segregated to pink & purple "girlie" products. A perfect example of this is your Belville line.

Now, I'm not asking for miracles. But small steps could be taken to include more female oriented role-models and activities into your products. Women have entered the workforce in great numbers, and more "female" interests could be reflected in your product design - such as veterinary clinics, dance studios, hair salons (still not the most "empowered" role-models, but at least an expression of girl-friendly play).

I write all of this because it was with great sadness that, after the excitement building and playing with Legos at home, we took a trip to the local Toys R' Us and my daughter was quite saddened when faced with row after row of "boy" Legos. There were only two obvious "girl" items - the pink starter bucket and the small Belville doghouse. There were also few possible female options, such as the modern house and a few farm scenes, but they just didn't seem like they were really "made for her".

I speak not only as a parent, but as a credentialed Kindergarten teacher. I know the incredible educational power of Legos. Kids are developing their fine motor skills, numeracy, spatial awareness, cause and effect, problem solving, literacy (following the instructions), and many more skills. These are just the type of skills that future female math & science graduates need - and that are SORELY lacking in girl toys in general!

My daughter LOVES Legos - as do I - and I would really love to see a stronger attempt at the Lego company to develop more positive Lego products for girls. I want my daughter's daughters to feel the same sort of joy that I had as a child with Legos.

Thank you very much...

1 comment:

  1. I am not sure how many of you have attempted to contact the Lego Group recently.

    However, I have, and I can tell you that they are as closed a group as you would every want to attempt to contact, especially if you have some worthwhile information to share.

    I don't say this necessarily as a criticism.

    I mean, they have press people all over the world who will not answer their e-mails, and, the one office I was able to contact in Denmark is captained by a very nice lady I am sure named, Charlotte Simonsen, whose basic return on almost any question is, "I don't understand."

    I say I don't hold this against Charlotte, because I know she must speak a mean version of Danish. For me, Danish is a pastry, so I am not one to talk.

    On the other hand, if one is going to interface with the world, especially if the Lego world is going to make way for Charlotte, you would expect, at least I would, that the person on the other end of e-mails would be English proficient in a major way.

    But, I don't get the feeling that is the case with Charlotte.

    Well, I said to myself. That's OK, what I will do, as the arrogant Italian I am, is just write to the corporate executives. Wrong!

    The corporate executives are screened from any direct questions from the public.

    Even that would be OK, but I had need of a couple of direct product answers that no one seemed to be able to address anywhere. So naturally I wanted to check with people like Mads Nipper at corporate headquarters, the hot shot, along with Jorgen Knudstorp, responsible for Lego's remarkable market showing during the last couple of years.

    Try as I might, and I tried mightily, I could not get any e-mail information relative to Mads or to any other of Lego's corporate executives, including Lisbeth Pallesen, Bali Padda, Christian Iversen or Jorgen as I mentioned. I was back to Charlotte with, "I don't understand."

    Rechecking with the other press offices, they only forwarded my e-mails to, yep, Charlotte.

    Well then, what about Lego Direct.

    I contacted them, and they DID respond, glory be! However, they didn't want to do much other than repeat information that if I can read (which I can, barely). They offered no new information, nor were empowered to do so.

    So, what was so interesting that I couldn't get an answer from anyone?

    I had a suggestion for a new product for them (doesn't everyone?).

    But this one is special.

    It's called BrickSpeak. BrickSpeak is the creation of a small company called ToysPeriod. They are the world's ONLY fully Lego bricked, matched audiophile quality loud speakers. And, they are GREAT!

    I have purchased a pair of them.

    The drivers are matched Taiwanese units, top of the line.

    Being a Lego fan big time, I wanted to tip them off that, in speaking with ToysPeriod (They actually answer their e-mails) they mentioned to me that the reason they made their product out of Lego is because they are not only long time fans themselves, but that Lego hasn't yet entered the audio component marketplace.

    It surprises them that the Lego Group doesn't seem to understand that the component market is hot, and judging on how BrickSpeak has taken off, why the Lego Group, especially with their hot shot management team, hasn't at least inquired about BrickSpeak.