LIFESTYLE

Women In STEM: Lego Release New Female Scientist Toy Set

07/08/2014 14:08 BST | Updated 11/03/2015 13:59 GMT

Despite making up 46% of the overall UK workforce, government figures show that women hold just 15.5% of jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) - but, thankfully, one toy company is hoping to change that.

Lego have released 'The Research Institute' - a set featuring three scientists busy at work, and these aren't just any scientists - they're all women.

lego women

The set is made up of a female astronomer, palaeontologist and chemist, and was the brain-child of geophysicist Ellen Kooijman, who suggested the idea to Lego.

But will these little plastic figures help to tackle the gender-imbalance in science?

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Anne-Marie Imafidon, founder of the Stemettes project – which aims to inspire the next generation of females into STEM - says Lego have made a step in the right direction.

"I think the figures will certainly encourage more girls to consider going into science roles. They might also help younger children see female scientists as more of a 'normal' thing," she says.

"With any luck their influencers (parents, relatives, teachers etc) might see them playing with these toys and also change their perceptions of what their little girl might grow up to be."

lego 2

Rachel Swidenbank head of Codecademy’s UK Operations is also a fan of Lego's latest addition.

"Anything that helps to break down the 'geeky male' stereotype we associate with professional scientists or those in STEM subjects is a step in the right direction," she says. "Given these toys will be introduced to girls at a young age - even better!"

"The sooner we can introduce images of female scientists to young girls the more likely we are to start breaking down the barriers and seeing more girl interested in these fields," she adds.

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Anne-Marie says part of the reason we see so few women in STEM is due to a lack of industry women in the public eye.

"If you've never seen a female engineer, palaeontologist or tech startup CEO and don't know any then you'd have no reason to think they exist - or encourage young girls to explore such a career path," she says.

Despite the fact that more women than men now receive university degrees overall, we are still seeing a lack of young women applying for STEM courses when they leave school.

Rachel says: "Studying STEM subjects opens up a world of opportunities for both boys and girls in terms of long term careers and as we move into a world that is becoming increasing technology focused it is essential we give girls an equal opportunity to succeed.

"Right now there is a huge gender imbalance in science and technology and we need as many initiatives as possible to help address this."

'The Research Institute' by Lego is due to be released later this month.