Mathematician Katherine Johnson and astronaut Mae Jemison will feature in a forthcoming Lego figurine collection highlighting women who made NASA history.


The Danish toy manufacturer announced Tuesday (February 28) that the "Women of NASA" set won its semiannual "Lego Ideas" competition, which allows fans to submit collection ideas for possible release. Collection designer and science writer Maia Weinstock tells the BBC that she crafted it in part to broaden children's horizons about who can pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions. "I hope it sets a new example for both girls and boys," she says. "Girls, in that they can and should be engineers, scientists and mathematicians, and boys, in that they internalize at an early age that these careers are for everyone, not only men."

Johnson's public profile recently grew thanks to the 2016 film, "Hidden Figures," which follows her and fellow Black female scientists' pivotal contributions to U.S. space travel in the segregated 1960s. Taraji P. Henson ("Empire"), who portrays Johnson in the movie, invited her on stage at the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday (February 26). 

Jemison's 1992 journey on the space shuttle Endeavor made her the first woman of color to travel in outer space. She now leads 100 Year Starship, an initiative funded by the Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that supports research for human space travel. Jemison tweeted her approval of the Lego collection yesterday (March 1). 

"Women of NASA" also features computer engineer Margaret Hamilton, astronomer Nancy Grace Roman and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. 

Lego's statement says the "Women of NASA" collection will be available in late 2017 or early 2018.