Entries in Feminism (2)


Lego Friends Triples Sales Despite Feminist Critique

Amazon(NEW YORK) -- While toymaker LEGO was criticized for perpetuating gender stereotypes with its LEGO Friends toy sets for girls earlier this year, the Danish company has said the controversy may have helped triple sales to girls.

Beginning late last year, the media picked up a maelstrom of criticism that LEGO Friends toy sets for girls – with shapely female figures and playsets like the Butterfly Beauty Shop – reinforced the idea that women should focus on their looks.

At the end of 2011, of the total number of LEGO sets purchased in the U.S., only 9 percent of them were for girls. The company now says its first half year of LEGO Friends availability “has been very successful in recruiting more girls to the LEGO building experience, dramatically increasing that number.” Now, 27 percent of LEGO sets purchased in the U.S. are for girls.

“Our goal with LEGO Friends is to engage more girls in the positive benefits of construction play,” said Michael McNally, brand relations director, LEGO Systems, Inc. in a statement to ABC News.

The LEGO Group is a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark.

In criticizing LEGO Friends, one U.S. organization, SPARK, which stands for Sexualization Protest, Action, Resistance, Knowledge, started a petition on in December 2011, asking the company to return its marketing strategy to focus on both boys and girls.

Members of SPARK met with McNally and other Lego executives in April to present a report and provide suggestions to LEGO.

“SPARK has approached our critique of LEGO from a place of long-time admiration and disappointment, rather than one of anger,” the group said.  “Despite that, the media loves a good brawl and has portrayed SPARK as an angry feminist group out to get the LEGO Friends banned because we hate pink. This has not been the case, however, and we made sure that the LEGO representatives were aware that our criticism is based on wanting the best for girls, as well as the LEGO company.”

McNally called it a “very productive meeting, and both parties walked away feeling good about the LEGO Group commitment to creative play options for all children.”

Among the suggestions were to include more girls in LEGO advertising and LEGO characters, only 13 percent of which are females, according to SPARK.  The group suggested the company incorporate more boys in advertising for LEGO friends.

“Many of the things that we discussed are things that we already had in progress or were planning to do, such as more female mini-figures in other LEGO themes, a broader variety of interests and hobbies reflected in LEGO Friends sets and the addition of male characters to the collection,” McNally told ABC News.

He said the company’s 2013 products “will reflect how much of this was already in progress.”

Bailey Shoemaker Richard, SPARK team coordinator, said she is “thrilled” the company is “heading in a direction that doesn’t limit girls to traditionally or strictly gendered roles,” like homemaking and baking, “and giving girls a broader range of options.”

“I’d still love to see better integration of these lines with the LEGO lines as a whole, for example by having more girls in all of their ads and showing boys playing with the Friends line, but as a first step, this seems positive,” she said.

McNally said, “LEGO Friends is one of the most extensively tested concepts in our company history, with four years of research done with thousands of girls and their moms around the world. We learned a lot about why more girls were not finding LEGO building to be more compelling and exciting, and we infused those insights to the line to create the collection that we heard very clearly would be more interesting for girls.”

He added, “The reaction from families who have tried LEGO Friends has been fantastic,” receiving “hundreds of thousands of emails and phone calls from parents, grandparents and children sharing their thanks and enthusiasm for the collection.”

The company has heard feedback describing how children using LEGO Friends have a “new-found interest in building” and go on to explore with other LEGO toy sets.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Federal Report: Women Gaining in Education But Stalled on Pay

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- American women are making real gains, especially in college and graduate education, but they continue to lag behind men in pay, according to a report released Tuesday by the White House that administration officials say will be used as a basis for policy changes.

The White House released the report, "Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being," to kick off Women's History Month. It was described as a "statistical portrait" showing how women are faring in the country today and how their roles have changed over time.

Administration officials acknowledged that there is nothing new to these reports -- compiled from reports that were already available to the public -- but said that the compilation of the findings shows something important for women and families that will influence the president's policies.

The administration said some of the key findings of the report were:

Women have not only caught up with men in college attendance but younger women are now more likely than younger men to have a college or a graduate degree. Women are also working more and the number of women and men in the labor force has nearly equalized in recent years. As women's work has increased, their earnings constitute a growing share of family income.

Gains in education and labor force involvement have not yet translated into wage and income equity. At all levels of education, women earned about 75 percent of what their male counterparts earned in 2009. In part because of these lower earnings and in part because unmarried and divorced women are the most likely to have responsibility for raising and supporting their children, women are more likely to be in poverty than men. These economic inequities are even more acute for women of color.

Women live longer than men but are more likely to face certain health problems, such as mobility impairments, arthritis, asthma, depression and obesity. Women are also less physically active than men. Women are less likely than men to suffer from heart disease or diabetes. One out of seven women age 18-64 has no usual source of health care and the share of women in that age range without health insurance has also increased.

Women are less likely than in the past to be the target of violent crimes, including homicide. But women are victims of certain crimes, such as intimate partner violence and stalking, at higher rates than men.

The report focused on five areas: people, families and income; education; unemployment; health; and crime and violence. The administration will be observing Women's History Month by highlighting a different section of the report each week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio