Is Lego Gender Biased?

Here was how our conversation in math class (MFM1P) went…..How many pieces make up this Star wars Lego ship? Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 3.28.54 PMWe started with that picture and had a great conversation around Lego.

Then I showed this one.

Does the pool/hot tub have more pieces/less pieces/ or the same? This turned into “boy” Lego vs. “girl” Lego. My personal opinion is its all great…. My 3 daughters are just as excited to play with Yoda as they are with Disney princesses. Girls in the class agreed that they didn’t need their own line of lego!!!

I moved our conversation a little forward with asking Which costs more? And which should cost more?

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 5.46.05 AMAnswers:

Anna — Friends should cost more because it’s a newer brand.

Joe — Star Wars costs more because it’s a popular brand.

Jacob — The friends cost more because there are more pieces.

Kristen — Friends should cost more because the pieces aren’t standard.

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How does Lego price it’s kits? Jacob suggested that its by number of pieces and the class agreed that has something to do with it. I Let them struggle here and see if they can discover the price per piece.

Some students found number of pieces per dollar and some found price per piece.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 11.56.12 AM

We all came to the same conclusion. We discover that Lego friends has the lower price per piece($0.08 compared to $0.11). Is this always true?

Let’s see! We go through a number of different Star Wars Lego sets finding the unit rates.
We notice that they are not all the same so we find the average rate.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 3.31.33 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-23 at 3.31.42 PM

 Get the whole slide show

We then go through Disney and Lego Friends sets and calculate the rates.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 3.32.10 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-23 at 3.32.18 PM

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Tracking Sheet

We saw that on average the Friends and Disney sets were $0.16 /piece compared to Star Wars’ $0.13/piece. Minds Blown!! We also graphed each on the same axis.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 3.32.41 PM

We then used our work to determine what each of these sets will cost?

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 6.12.56 AMThe class conclusion: Lego sets are pricing their Lego Friends and Disney sets higher than Star Wars sets! Girl vs. Boy conversations came back up and I threw this set out at them……and they were outraged by the price!!!!!


IMG_3035 I should let you know in my small class of 15 students……12 of them are girls!!!


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Update –Add ons — From Matt “Lego Activist” Vaudrey


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16 thoughts on “Is Lego Gender Biased?

  1. I like this idea quite a bit. I’m going to try it this coming week with my 7th graders. We are studying stats right now so I think this will tie in real well and give them some review of unit rates. I just did a quick test myself using Amazon. I compared Friends vs Super Hero, and Friends was cheaper by about 0.02 $US in the sample I did. That’s interesting to me. Maybe it has more to do with licensing costs for the Marvel stuff.

  2. I did the lesson. Instead of focusing on gender, we did it more generally. I had them pick two set types. Like star wars, super hero, friends, disney princess. It seems that it may not be gender bias so much as licensing. Super here seems to be the most expensive per piece. Disney princess is up there. Star wars is cheaper for some reason.

  3. Lego is not gender bias because all my cousins play with any kind of Lego and they don’t care what colour it is so we should just leave Lego alone and let them do there thing

  4. Lego is just creating a future for kids and also Lego helps kids plan what they are going to build and it helps them stretch their brains and learn more so we shouldn’t argue with that

  5. Karen

    Great idea! I made the change to compare Ninjago vs. Friends. I will be investigating the licensing fee for branded Lego (i.e. Star Wars or DC Comics) later this semester.

    Ninjago vs. Friends – Friends still has a higher price per piece.

    Thank you!

      1. Leanne

        Hi Jon,
        I am currently teaching MEL3E and was hoping to ask you a few questions about the way that you taught it. Is it possible to email you? Thank you! Leanne

        1. Mary

          Hi Leanne and Jon,

          Did you ever develop a strategy for using this in MEL3E? I would be interested in your approach.

          Kind Regards, Mary

  6. ~e

    Not just licensing fees – there are also volume considerations. If SW sells a *lot* more than friends, then you can lower the profit margin, and make it up on volume. Which is based on order demand from retailers, if they generally can’t move Friends sets (are left with a lot left over, even when they discount it some), they’ll order fewer ‘girls’ toys. Eg: if they can discount SW at 10% (at the end of the season), and clear them out – they’ll be more apt to order more SW than Friends sets. This may also relate to disposable income available for boy vs. girl purchases – AFOL are more apt to be guys (there are more single/unmarried/no-kid guys than gals), and single adult women tend not to buy toys. Additionally, dads may make more money, and spend more on boy’s toys. Girls may want to spend more of their parent’s money on non-toys; like shoes, fashionable clothing, and makeup – so demand from girls may be weaker. Do percentage budgets of what boys vs. girls spend their budget on.

    Lego is a very progressive company (lego yellow skin was a move against racism, and ‘no modern firearms’ was a policy to reduce gun violence) – however, they have to bow to market realities. Subsidizing girl’s toys in order to make the prices the same, will result in market inefficiencies.

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