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Women's Brick Initiative

LEGO Star Wars and Gender Equity

Published February 5, 2021 By Megan Lum | 0 Comments

The Star Wars enterprise has been one of the largest and most lucrative themes in the LEGO business. As users attempt to build their way across the Galactic Universe, they can purchase the Millenium Falcon set for only $799.99 and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the LEGO Star Wars sets. 

A year earlier, in November, 2019, the LEGO Group announced the acquisition of the world’s largest online LEGO community and marketplace, Bricklink Ltd. According to the following article published on the LEGO Website, “The BrickLink platform has more than one million members and comprises an online marketplace of more than 10,000 stores from 70 countries; a digital building software where builders can design and showcase their creations; and a vibrant online community where fans share ideas and builds”. Sets posted on Bricklink will attract attention and normally rake in a much higher demand, as the website allows easy acquisition to pieces and parts one would otherwise have to buy in store. 

In a consequent case experiment, when examining the largest theme of the LEGO construction sets, we can easily access the online catalog of the Star Wars sets, parts, and minifigures. This is an analytical breakdown of what happens when you type: “star wars minifigure head” into Bricklink.

The results page pulls up the resulting page, with the typical Bricklink page. 

There are a few nuances that need to be stated about the used method of collecting data from Bricklink, there are a few droids, for example, part sw0351, listed as “IG-88”. that are categorized as Gender NA.  If there are no defining “male” or “female” characteristics, in either the physical attributes of the actual LEGO piece, or according to Star Wars lore, the character piece is thus placed in the Gender NA category. R2-D2 is listed as male, as he is frequently referred to as a “he” in the movies. 

If we focus on these minifigures featured throughout the four listed pages on Bricklink, we can see that we are met with at least a couple of issues. The first is that, of these 101 minifigures, none listed are female. Not necessarily that none of these minifigures are explicitly labeled as “female”, but that not a single female character from Star Wars (of the few that are actually given substantial screen time throughout the franchise) is listed. 

Within the gender breakdown of characters, we can do a further analysis of color of the listed minifigure heads. In the figure below, we can see that, when dealing with alien species (as in the Star Wars films), there is a broader spectrum of skin tones. However, despite this wider spectrum, we can realize that even when dealing with extraterrestrial beings, there are no female representatives. 

And furthermore, a breakdown of the color of the listed minifigure heads across time:

So while Bricklink can provide listed characters of a range of all skin colors (including Black, Light Bluish Gray, and White), the forum is seemingly unable to find a Star Wars female character that falls under the category “star wars minifigure head”.

Now that LEGO has officially acquired Bricklink as a public relations asset, we do not know whether fault lies at the public domain which carries the responsibility of listing subsequent pieces from LEGO sets, or LEGO, for failing to regulate the listings of such pieces. Either way, we can agree that there are communication drawbacks lying between each party, and it falls on both to find a solution to this issue. In order to form any sort of tentative solution, LEGO and Bricklink must find some kind of common ground and first and foremost, find the errors throughout the catalog’s website. The data is complex, but now that LEGO has full ownership of Bricklink, both companies need to tread more cautiously.

Filed in: Research Tagged with: Gender Diversity

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