Old Lego advertisement featuring a little girl and her lego creation

Pandering to horny teenage linkspam

  • Angela Zhang of Cupertino won a $100,000 scholarship for her cancer fighting research. In her project, Zhang aimed to design a targeted gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle with the potential to eradicate cancer stem cells through a controlled delivery of the drug salinomycin to the site of the tumor. (…) The 17-year-old roughly estimates that the essence of her research could be available for use by cancer patients in 15 to 20 years.
  • Anti-pattern theater: how to get women to quit

    How do you piss off a technical woman so she will leave your team? It’s easy. Just go and lob a few complaints about her behavior that would never apply to a guy. The easiest one of these is to say “you’re being too emotional”. Who’s going to argue against that? All you have to do is find places where she emphasizes things instead of remaining in a flat monotone and you hit paydirt.

  • BusinessWeek asserts, Lego Is for Girls:
    Focusing on boys saved the toymaker in 2005. Now the company is launching Lego Friends for “the other 50 percent of the world’s children.” Will girls buy in?

  • I’m starting to think Lego is evil – Some musings on how lego has changed over the years, including the new “targeted at girls” line. This article’s from a dad, and I’d like to see some responses from women too, so if you’ve seen a good one (or written one!) please post in the comments. Mostly, though, you need to see this old ad he dug up:
    Old Lego advertisement featuring a little girl and her lego creation

    Old Lego advertisement featuring a little girl and her lego creation

  • @mnemosynekurai: Surprising no one, @Kotaku defends its pandering to horny teenage boys yfrog.com/mnv83p
  • 11 To-Do’s for Women In Tech – Written after a panel at LISA, this is a very nice, short, clear list of advice for those trying to improve the numbers of women in tech. This probably won’t be new advice to many readers here, but it’s a good version to keep handy for those who want a short primer.
  • Greg Wilson is starting up a course on How to Teach Webcraft and Programming to Free-Range Students: Right now, people all over the world are learning how to write programs and create web sites, but or every one who is doing it in a classroom there are a dozen free-range learners. This group will focus on how we, as mentors, can best help them. This may be of interest to those hoping to mentor fellow women in technology!

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

9 thoughts on “Pandering to horny teenage linkspam

  1. Dorothea

    That ad! That ad! That is ABSOLUTELY what my childhood Lego projects looked like! (Well, okay, mine had long skinny pieces poking out all over the place as “guns” because that’s how I rolled. I was building space-empire ships, yo.)

  2. gin

    I very much agree with Alicia Liu.

    And a bit more about my own (not Alicia’s) opinions:
    For some girls, it’s the consturction possibilities in Lego (I think that’s what the old ad shows). But for me as a girl, I always looked at the Lego figures first, played with them like dolls, then constructed a world around them – and I’d have loved the Friends figures as a child. I think Friends sets offer a way for some (not all) girls to start getting really interested in Lego.

    I’m particularly happy that the new Friend figures are size-compatible with the rest of the Lego sets, such as City, Space Exploration etc. Previous Lego sets targeted at girls had oversized figures eg. Belville & sets I remember from my childhood… so you were kind of trapped in a very limited girls-only world if you cared about size and scale (which I did, a lot).

    I’m planning on buying at least the scientist, maybe the vet & designer from my own (girl)children, to mix with their existing Lego, if they want.

  3. sysadmin1138

    I was at the Women in Tech session at LISA 11. That was an interesting session. It ran a lot like a fandom session, in that there were many people at the table, a moderator, opening and closing talking points, and questions from the audience. This set it apart from the rest of the sessions at the conference which were understandably technical.

    As the linked blog-post pointed out, sysadmin spaces aren’t as welcoming as programming spaces if for no other reason than gaining competence in programming is possible without interacting with many other people. Systems administration is still largely taught through an informal apprentice system, which can be quite intimidating for women fresh out of school. This is why women-focused mentorships and internship-programs are so very critical.

    It struck me that a lot of the problems women are facing when they try to break into the space are first and second wave problems; just getting in the door and sticking around is a fight all its own. It’s less women can’t do this job, so go away, and more the culture is so strongly masculine that if you can’t conform, go away.

    To which I say, yeah. Sysadmins self-police their community spaces through sarcasm and belittling, and it takes a thick skin and a willingness to sling back in kind to do well. It’s possible to get ahead without being involved in the community spaces (I did it), but if the culture has infected a workplace it makes it hostile.

  4. Caroline

    I was brought up short by the reminder to look at Lego as it is now, rather than as I think I remember it, or as I wish it were. He has a point. In most retail stores, Lego does consist entirely of “movie-tie-in model sets marketed pretty much exclusively towards boys.”

    I’m given some hope, though, by the design of the Lego store in a nearby mall. The thing that catches your eye when you walk in? A huge, glowing, candy-store-style wall of clear plastic bins full of loose Lego bricks. The bins are round and arranged so the whole wall looks like a giant Lego brick. Each bin holds a different color and size of bricks. You get a clear plastic cup with a lid and buy the bricks like candy. Then you notice the small play tables where kids are building free-form things. Only then do you notice that there are boxed Lego models lining the walls.

    I’m hoping that store design means Lego is starting to aim in a new direction with marketing — more towards the free-form play. I should probably be more cynical. The “girls Lego” stuff doesn’t sound like they’re heading in that direction, at least not in a positive way.

    (Also, do boys really put together the models and not stop until it looks like the box? I seem to remember my brother and his friends mostly put together some kind of super star destroyer out of parts from five different models.)

    1. Mary

      Also, do boys really put together the models and not stop until it looks like the box?

      I’ve always assumed that the expensive movie tie-in sets are actually often purchased by adult men, but that may be just that most of the people I know buying them are men my age. I don’t know many boys. The men I know who buy them do tend to more or less tend to assemble the thing on the box. It’s less of a creative play process than a model-building one.

    2. lauredhel

      I have a nine-year old son who adores Lego. He makes the models out of the box first, painstakingly following the instructions, which usually takes a couple of days for the 1000-piece models.

      That then gets played with for a few days, weeks, or months, with various modifications taking place over time. Eventually, it gets torn down completely (either deliberately or by misadventure), and it goes on to be combined with different bricks and parts from the IKEA Drawer-Wall of Lego, and assembled into a panoply of new things.

      It’s the best of both worlds: he gets to do the model-building, and at the end he’s not just stuck with a display geegaw.

  5. Ingrid Jakobsen

    When I played with Lego, I’d build the model following the instructions first, and then later pull it apart, make other things, possibly mix it with other sets, and sometimes going back to the original instructions and making the “official” thing again.

    Two woman-authored blog posts about Lego:

    http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/lego-for-girls/

    http://bluemilk.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/it-used-to-be-better/

    (short post, but the comments get into the meat of the issue and are mainly by women)

  6. oldfeminist

    I’m not sure if I’m amused or horrified that so many of the comments on the article “I’m starting to think Lego is evil” are of the form, “I’d be more inclined to believe you if you knew that it’s LEGO not Lego or lego/knew that it was LEGO blocks not LEGOs.”

    I already expected a lot of the comments to be explaining how businesses work and they can’t be bothered to be fair or give a shit about anything other that money, even though the company is privately held so they don’t have to answer to stockholders.

    I remember the old-school LEGOs, also the old-school Tinkertoys and Erector sets. Most of the building toys weren’t supposed to be played with by girls. I had a neighbor who would occasionally let me play with the smaller toy trucks in his collection. But the really cool stuff was reserved for boys.

Comments are closed.