Women of NASA construction set (Lego 21312)

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A built "Women of NASA" Lego Set 201312

The sets builds into three small plinthed dioramas, with four Lego "minifigures", representing

  • Margaret Hamilton
  • Nancy Roman
  • Mae Jemison
  • Sally Ride

The set was designed by Maia Weinstock.


Margaret Hamilton was a software engineer on the Apollo missions. Her slightly confusing diorama with a stack of rectangles and a coat-stand is explained by the fact that the diorama represents an iconic photo of her (in her office?) standing next to a stack of printed and bound Apollo source code, with a coat-stand over to the left.

Nancy Roman is an astronomer who worked on several projects at NASA, but who is chiefly remembered for being a driving force behind the Hubble Space Telescope project. Roman is represented alongside a model of the Space Telescope.

Sally Ride and Mae Jemison both served as Shuttle astronauts, and are represented alongside a small (but cute) Lego model of a Space Shuttle and external tank and boosters. As of 2019, Ride still holds the record for being the youngest American astronaut to go into space (at 32).


The "Women of NASA" set became Lego's #1 online seller almost immediately that it was released. The set earned Lego considerable respect for addressing a previous complaint that Lego figures of "professionals" were usually male, making the Lego Universe appear to be almost male-only.

These complaints got louder when Lego commissioned research and design work on how to make Lego more "girl-friendly", which resulted in a range called Lego Friends. The "Friends" range was designed to be "girly" Lego, with pastel-and-purple colours, a design emphasis on hearts and flowers, and female figures with skinny arms, big eyes and "important" hairstyling. To some people the creation of a distinction between "boys' Lego" and "girls' Lego" was playing into and perpetuating gender stereotypes, and encouraging young girls to limit their aspirations to careers such as singer or hairdresser. Why couldn't a female Lego character be a racecar driver or an explorer? Perhaps the way to make Lego Pirate Ship sets appeal more to girls was not to make them pink, but to perhaps, maybe, consider including a few female pirates in the sets for girls to relate to?

In an environment where "Lego Friends" was seen as toxic to gender-equality education, the arrival of a Lego set that presented real-life examples of women as engineers, scientists and astronauts was very gratefully received.

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