Take the 2-minute tour ×
LEGO® Answers is a question and answer site for LEGO® and building block enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

For many years now, Lego has provided more detail on the face and bodies of minifigures. One of the effects of this is that the usually visually gender-neutral minifigures of my childhood (with the rare exception of a sloped piece as a dress) have been replaced by clear male and female faces and body shapes.

But in packing away my Atlantis sets to make room for my wife's new Super Star Destroyer, I've noticed that there's only one woman. And yet, oceanography and marine biology have some of the highest ratios of female graduates and employees in scientific fields, approaching 50%.

So of all the minifigures who are gendered (either explicitly by Lego in character biographies, or via secondary sexual traits like facial hair, or via cultural traits like wearing a dress or lipstick), what's the ratio of male to female minifigures? How does it break down year-over-year, theme-by-theme, and by recommended age group?

(As you might guess, there's an ideological agenda behind this question, and yes it's inspired by the ridiculous new "Lego Friends" line of figures. But what I'm most interested in right now is hard facts.)

share|improve this question
3  
If it's any help to your agenda, the first female Minifigure (a nurse) was released two months after the first male Minifigure, both in 1978. The precursor to the minifigure (the ones made out of bricks) also had male and female hair pieces in fairly even ratios (certainly I had about the same amount of both). But purely going by the Minifigures collections, male figures heavily outweigh female ones. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 5 '12 at 10:00
1  
A lot of this is probably down to the market - Boys tend to prefer playing with (and watching) male characters (hence a lot of TV shows with male leads), while girls tend to accept playing/watching with either gender happily. This isn't to say that girls don't prefer to play with female characters, just that they tend to be more accepting of the imbalance. Certainly my sons are disappointed when we open a Minifigure packet and it's a lady in a dress. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 5 '12 at 10:03
1  
I do, don't worry, that's also why I ensure we do occasionally pick one out - also they quite like the "action girls" - skaters, surfers, zoo-keeper etc., and that said, they seem to enjoy the Geisha head and hair - it's just the slope/dress they don't really like. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 5 '12 at 10:17
1  
I did a quick check of the released sets in the Freinds theme. There are 23 female figures and one male figure (Peter). –  Ambo100 Jan 5 '12 at 16:21
1  
In a rather cheeky way, I refer the honourable gentleman to this question "My daughter loves to play with LEGO sets but she is really wants to play with pink or 'girl' LEGO", while we all do our best to educate our kids some things seem to get ingrained :( –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 26 '12 at 8:31
show 3 more comments

3 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

I found this interesting comment by J on a blog post about LEGO female oriented sets.

I did a count of male and female mini-figures by theme in the 2011 releases for which we have visual evidence. The modular house line always tends to be more balanced so there’s still potential there but the City theme is particularly bad this year. Here’s the results (aliens/creatures are excluded except where male-female differentiation exists:

Alien Abduction: 9 male, 1 female

Atlantis: 7 male, 1 female

Castle: 15 male, 1 female

City: 59 male, 5 female

Collectible Mini-Figures: 37 male, 10 female (omit 1 alien)

Creator: 2 male, 0 female

Dacta: 33 male, 19 female Duplo: 16 male, 4 female

Harry Potter: 20 male, 3 female

Ninjago: 30 male, 3 female

Pharaoh’s Quest: 9 male, 1 female

Pirates of the Caribbean: 32 male, 4 female

Star Wars: 43 male, 7 female

Trains: 3 male, 0 female

TOTAL SYSTEM: 299 male, 55 female

TOTAL DUPLO: 16 male, 4 female

TOTAL: 315 male, 59 female

That’s greater than a 5:1 ratio and if you remove the Dacta and Collectible Mini-figure sets from the equation, you get a pathetic 8:1 ratio (245 male, 30 female). I’ll say it again. If Lego wants girls to take interest in their products, they should make a better effort to include figures through which girls can identify.

The survey only takes into account 374 minifigures of the last year. It would be interesting to compare this data to minifigures released, 10, 20 and 30 years back to see how the gender ratio has changed.


Collectable Minifigures Series 1-7 & Team GB

I've performed my own test, this time with Collectable Minifigures. Feel free to correct me on any of the ambiguous minifigures.

Series 1: 10 male, 2 female, 4 ambiguous (Tribal Hunter, Circus Clown, Robot, Demolition Dummy)

Series 2: 12 males, 3 females, 1 ambiguous (Mime)

Series 3: 11 male, 3 female, 2 ambiguous (Mummy, Space Alien)

Series 4: 13 male, 3 female

Series 5: 11 male, 4 female, 1 ambiguous (Small Clown)

Series 6: 9 male, 5 female, 2 ambiguous (Classic Alien, Clockwork Robot)

Series 7: 11 male, 5 female

Series 8: 10 male, 5 female, 1 ambiguous (Evil Robot)

Series 9: 10 male, 5 female, 1 ambiguous (Battle Mech)

Team GB: 6 male, 3 female

TOTAL: 91 male, 30 female, 11 ambiguous

The ratio can roughly be roughly simplified as 9:3:1 (m/f/a)

Download .CSV [?]

share|improve this answer
4  
Yikes! The 12:1 ratio for City, which Lego has 100% creative control over and could easy just put in more women, is probably the most surprising/depressing. This is very close to what I'm looking for - I'll leave the question open for a few days in case anyone can pull up good historical data, but otherwise this is a great answer. –  user23 Jan 5 '12 at 16:14
    
I did notice the Horizon Express set has exactly 50:50 ratio, including a female driver. Which is a start. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Mar 13 '13 at 18:04
add comment

My guess would be that only LEGO has the answer, and I'm sure they'd never tell. But for what it's worth, looking at the BrickLink.com stock, I came up with a ratio of 4:2:1 for male:neutral:female heads.

I looked at heads because I feel like many figs aren't so cut-and-dried with respect to gender (or could be considered both/either), while it's pretty clear with heads where you stand. This doesn't take into account multiple copies of the same fig in sets, but it does take into account older minifig designs, which had a tendency to be less gender specific.

Anyway, in case anyone's interested, here's a post with more details on my findings, including my sources and methods, as well as further musings on the gender-LEGO issue:

share|improve this answer
add comment

Based on this great info-graphic data, the male to female ratio is at 18:1

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.