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The world of female LEGO fans – PART 1

by admin on August 28, 2011

in Community Articles

(Written by Sarah)

Like many ideas, this one came to me suddenly. I wasn’t even really thinking about anything particular, but it pounced on me and told me that I should write a post about women and LEGO. 🙂

“Never Enough LEGOs” by Klementina Kos

It’s always a hot topic in the LEGO universe. I’m sure this has been examined before, but I felt like presenting my take one it. So for this first part, I’ll share my theories on why women like LEGO and ask for feedback to aid in my research. In the next part, I’m going to share my personal experiences. Then, future post(s) will share the research that I’ve done. This is not, by any means, going to be comprehensive, but it will give a glimpse into why some women play with LEGO. 😛

FFOL Stacey Sterling at BrickWorld (photo by Heather LEGOgirl)

MY THEORIES ON THE WORLD OF FEMALE LEGO FANS

FIRST, THE SOCIAL: I really enjoy interacting with others around, and with, LEGO. I think this is a big draw for many other women too. LEGO is a medium, an activity, in which we gather, discuss, and do. Social groups are a big part in many women’s lives.

It probably has something to do with how we’re wired, but all I know is that the women in my local club aren’t as much focused on building with LEGO as discussing and sharing.I kind of see the LEGO-club much like a book-club or knitting-club. A common activity for bringing women together, but after a while, it’s not necessarily the purpose.  It’s still an integral part, but it’s not the sole focus.

“LOVE” by Janey Gunning

SECOND, THE STORY-TELLING: When it does get to women building with LEGO, I’ve often seen and experienced myself that the focus of building is on the “who” and the “why”. Whereas men tend to focus more on the “how” and the “where” of a creation. These are generalizations and dangerous ground to tread, but remember I am speaking from my experiences and would love to know what others think. 😉

I pull a lot of this from my own building, my husband’s building and what I see at my local club. Men young and old brag of building this or that and how accurate or realistic it is. Women young and old talk more of the characters and the story behind what they’ve built.

“Making License Plates” by Heather LEGOgirl

This goes back to LEGO trying to capture the young female audience by creating a separate line that focuses on role-playing. Whether or not they get the product right, the theory behind it seems sound. Women feel fulfilled with creating stories with their LEGO building.

OTHER WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES

“Time for LEGO Shopping” by Klementina Kos

I’ve started talking to other women about why they like LEGO and I’ll be compiling that into a future post. If you want to contribute to this little study, please post in the comments section below. I would like to quote people, so please post whether you are okay with that or not. If you do not indicate one way or the other, I will assume that you do not want me to quote you directly.

Also, if anyone knows of someone else who’s done this same thing, please post links to the articles/blogs. I’d really be interested to know what has already been done on this topic.

If you’re interested in checking out the research, I’ve posted on a few different forums asking for feedback. You can follow the discussions here:

And you may also want to check out the other posts in this series:

TheBrickChick.com Car of Jenn Wagner, (aka. “The Brick Chick”)

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie August 28, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Have you seen the flickr group for FFOLs? http://www.flickr.com/groups/ffolbrickchick/

Anyway, I would like to say that I’m very much not into stories in relation to my building. My building is mostly just mathematical precision and problem solving. But perhaps I’m not a typical female. But then, I’ve gotten the impression that typical females aren’t really that into LEGO, so who knows. I do know that I like to socializing aspect of this hobby. There aren’t any LUGs where I live, but I do like the chit chat on the internet. Some people spend a ton of time working on one huge project, but I like to post lots of photos of little things, because it becomes an opportunity to talk to people and interact about things. There is a lot of “nice job” comments, but there are also comments that are more in depth and I’ve made some friends this way, and even know a fair amount about their lives just by the commenting we do on each other’s photos.

If I think of something else, I’ll come back and comment again. 😉

Katie

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admin August 30, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Katie, thanks for sharing! Yes, it seems that women are very complex creatures. And the responses so far being all over the board seem to reflect this. But one thing is certain; women who love LEGO are beautiful beings! Creative, fun, artistic and patient! 😛

Thanks for the link! I forgot about that group, even though I’m a member too! I did write a post, asking if members would like to participate. Also, if you know any other FFOLs, we would appreciate if you would let them know about Sarah’s study here. (She is busy at work this week, so I’m filling in for her in the meantime.)

BTW, I have seen your latest mosaics, and I’m in awe! I’m planning to write a whole post about them! 😉

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Katie August 30, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Also, I think Mariann Asanuma has talked about this topic on her blog before. You should certainly ask her about it.

And thanks! I’m glad you like the newest mosaics. I was thrilled with the whole concept of bricks actually connecting, and the off-setting angles, and all that. One of my favorite parts of the whole LEGO thing for me is the thrill of discovery, of figuring out something I didn’t know before. I love it!

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admin August 30, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Oh, thanks, Katie! I was thinking of contacting Mariann, just to get some feedback from her, and if she has addressed the topic before, it is even better! 😀

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LegoMom August 28, 2011 at 7:45 PM

This is a going to be a big research project! I can already see! But I’m glad you are taking it up! It should be interesting!
As for myself, I haven’t even fully admitted that I’m an adult who loves Lego, not to speak of a grown woman with a family, job, responsibilities, loving Lego!
I like how freely some women express their love of this hobby! It is freeing for me too!
As far as your theories, yeah, I can relate to both. I like the social aspect of Lego, playing with my kids, checking out other people’s stuff, hanging out on online forums. And I also like the story telling aspect.
But as I have said, I don’t know if I count as a FFOL yet, as I haven’t fully admitted it to myself. Not to speak of coming out with it! I kind of feel guilty about it at times.
But that first picture is just so sweet! That is how I want to be with Lego! Free to admit I love it and roll in a big pile of it! LOL! 😀

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admin August 30, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Amen, to that last sentence, sister! 😀
But seriously; women (especially women with families) often have trouble giving to themselves, while they are giving to everyone around them. This is not just an issue with the LEGO hobby. It is with everything. For most women it takes some time to let go of their guilt and find a beautiful balance between giving and and taking care of others, and recharging their batteries.
The world needs healthy and balanced ladies, so I would suggest you go for it, and roll in a pile of LEGO! :LOL:

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Maxx August 30, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Hi Legomum,
Not a FFOL, but you call yourself Legomum???
Anyway, I look at it differently (maybe being a man(c: ).
What is the difference in painting, knitting, puzzling or LEGO.
These are all basically for kids, but we accept adults doing them, but not LEGO?
I find LEGO simply another medium, like paint to express my feelings or simply to relax.
And if you check my bloggs on here, I collect them too, not something for kids I can tell you, some of these bricks go for big money, ask Anna(c:

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admin August 30, 2011 at 5:35 PM

LOL, Maxx! Pssst! 😈

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Shelly H August 30, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Whoa, Maxx! You lump knitting with Lego? I’m not sure where you picked up your concept of knitters, but knitting was first practiced by men, not children, it is primarily practiced by adults though in the past it was taught to children in schools because it helped to provide much of the clothing for the whole family. Children were taught knitting not as a passtime but as a craft that they would practice all their lives. It is true that knitters today often pursue the craft as a hobby, and that they knit for others more often than for themselves. As a member of a few knitting groups I hear from a wide variety of knitters. Many learned as children, then dropped the craft until adulthood.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox!

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Katie August 30, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Painting is also an adult art; have you been to the art museums? And then puzzles… ah, think of all the puzzle books that are only for adults, that no little kiddo could ever manage to solve…

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Maxx August 31, 2011 at 1:58 AM

Right, to all of the above, painting is considered an art, knitting is considered usefull, puzzles specially for grown ups, so why can’t LEGO be on the same page?

What I meant to say by my comment was: “Legomum, can’t you see how limited your sight is by only looking at the kids side of things.”

Shelly, building is also primarily for adults, plastic bricks are only there to let kids practice building.
In the end it’s all only a preperation for adulthood.
To Katie, if you do not learn painting as being fun as a kid, I don’t think many people would paint as adults.
Again, it’s what we learn as kids, that partly defines the grownup.

To all, I think you should reread my post and factor in that English is not my first language, plus I tried to show Legomum in a funny way how wrong her thinking might be(c:

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LegoMom August 31, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Hey, Maxx, I can be LegoMom or whatever I want online as it is anonymous. You don’t know who I am, where I live or where I work. I’m not sure if I could be so open about Lego in my real life. It is true though, that Lego is just an other hobby. It is just not as well known or accepted as an adult hobby. At least not in my circles. Actually, now that I think about it, I can bring up Nathan Savaya, he was a lawyer! Right?

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Shelly H September 1, 2011 at 2:31 AM

Yes, an artist friend of mine recently said I had LegoMania because I mentioned it more on fb than she expected. Didn’t bother me. I know other adult Lego fans who are practically closet fans rather than open and enjoying the hobby with other enthusiasts. In my opinion, that’s their loss.

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admin September 1, 2011 at 1:28 PM

Shelly, I believe that all the LEGO websites, forums, social sites and blogs boosted the LEGO hobby tremendously in the past few years. A lot of “closet-fans” came out of the closet after seeing what a furry of activity other adult LEGO fans were whipping up! I have read many testimonials from adults who were just amazed to see the whole online LEGO community, and all of a sudden they were out of the closet themselves and transformed into proud AFOLs! 😀

Also, I noticed an interesting trend, that the younger, “Internet generation”, who were sharing their LEGO passion online all along, never get into a dark-ages period. They don’t feel the pressure to get out of the LEGO-habit once they hit their mid-teens.

Also, there are always pioneers who carve out a path. They have a calling and they go for it, not caring for the opinions of others. And there are also others, a bit shy, who may not build a path on their own, but they will proudly support the pioneers and follow them to make that path even better. 😉

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Maxx September 1, 2011 at 3:04 AM

Hi Legomom and others,
Yes, you are right, I don’t know who you really are and I am sorry to hear that adults are still letting other people decide what they can and can’t do:(
Being very open about my LEGO addiction myself, I try and let others see it’s okay.
When I do workshops for kids here, most parents will also build themselves.
And might even buy their first set (as an adult).
But to get back to the initial question, in the end there will be some overall differences in building with LEGO between men and women.
But this will only be true for large groups.
The individuel man or woman might be totally opposite to this, as with all statistics, there have to be top scorers and bottom scorers, not everyone is mainstream.
One thing I must let out here, a big difference between men and women….
I feel being attacked by some of your replies to my posts, now, I will just takes these as being against my posts, not against the fact I am a man(c:
Enjoy LEGO!

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Katie September 1, 2011 at 12:52 PM

I wasn’t meaning to attack you; I think it came out wrong. I’m sorry! I agree with the points you made, and thank you for participating in the discussion.

I was also wondering if gender makes as much of a difference on the internet, where you can’t see who you are talking to, as it does in real life, where you are immediately and constantly made aware of a person’s gender, just by looking at him/her.

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FrenchToast August 28, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Well, this is an interesting project, so I will chirp in! 😉
I haven’t thought of lego as a guy thing or a girl thing. But I do see that guys like to build spaceships and cars and trains, whereas I’m more interested in the minifigs, small dioramas and houses. I have been seriously considering building our family house from lego.
I’m not so much into the social aspect though. I haven’t really even thought of lego having a social aspect. Crowds overwhelm me, so I rather build something by myself or with my son. Even going over to the lego store is not something I like. I mean I like the lego but all those huge crowds of people, screaming kids, loud music. Just want to get out of there. I rather shop at Toys R Us, or other department stores.
We don’t have a lego club here, but I’m not sure if I would even want to go. Maybe for my son. But hanging out with other adults and just chitchat is not my thing.
I believe lego is a great creative and educational medium, much better than any other toy I have seen. Fortunately my son likes it too, and I have no problem having lego as my hobby. He has his lego and I have mine, and sometimes we share too. All my friends and family knows that we are both lego fans.
Hope I have contributed something to your research! 😉

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admin August 30, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Thanks for contributing! It is wonderful that you and your son can enjoy the LEGO hobby together! 🙂
LOL! I can totally relate to your experience with the LEGO store! I don’t know which one you go to, but the one in Orlando is just as you described; always full of people, screaming kids, and loud hidious “music”! 😡

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SPMom August 29, 2011 at 10:39 AM

I can relate to both the social aspect and the story telling aspect you mention. But I’m like that with everything. I heard a saying once; “How we do anything is how we do everything”, so I guess we will interact with legos the same way we interact with other things in our life.
Some women are social, while others are more solitary. Some are into story telling, some into creating order out of chaos, some are into art and creativity, some more into the human element. Women are complex creatures, so I guess this study could lead you all over the place, depending on who responds.

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admin August 30, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Great points there! Yes, so far from the responses it seems that there is not just one answer to how women relate to the LEGO hobby. The more data we get the more interesting this little study should be. If you have any other FFOL friends, please encourage them to contribute as well. Thank you for participating and sharing! 🙂

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Shelly H August 30, 2011 at 1:19 AM

To me Lego is an extension of the jigsaw puzzles I’ve always enjoyed, taking it to 3-D and adding the challenge of architecture. It can be either a solitary or group hobby making it fun no matter if I feel like spending time alone or with one or more people.

My #1 favorite set is definitely 3450 – The Statue of Liberty. I loved the challenge of nearly all the pieces being one color. We (hubby and I) also built the fan designed base for this set.

My #2 favorite is The Taj Mahal. Again, it was the challenge of most of the pieces being one color.

My #3 favorite isn’t a set, but a theme, and that’s the Winter Village buildings.

In general, the larger the set the more I enjoy putting it together.

You may use my information but please don’t publish my email address.

Thank you.

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admin August 30, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Shelly, thanks for sharing! Yes, LEGO does have a jigsaw-puzzle-ish nature to it! And puzzles have been a long-term hobby for many individuals and families. It is interesting how you like the big architectural sets, and then the cute little Winter Village ones! Eh, LEGO is fun both big and small, so enjoy! 😉

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Divinity3d August 30, 2011 at 2:17 AM

I would love to talk about Lego, however I hate talking about myself =P. I am always trying to outdo my own buildings and homes. I have a degree in architecture and Lego is my median, my only outlet since the economy has pooped on me. I have not put it down since I was 3 years old, never had a dark ages. I joined my first Lego adult group over 10 years ago and now I participate with every Lego group in California, so that means about 6 or so different clubs, which sometimes means driving 8 hours to participate in a show or activity. I cannot stand hollow, unfinished things. Everything I build has a purpose, (since I was little) such as, and office building, a house or a condo, a hospital, whatever. I dont leave floors unfinished, or empty. They dont exactly have a story, there isnt a history. They are creations, usually completely without even a look alike in the real world. I’m not a copy cat as much as trying to build things that are new and unique. I do have some things that are better bigger replicas of some building I have encountered, but they arent my passion. I do love the interaction and sharing of techniques and ideas and the freindships I have found and built around Lego. Some of my fellow Afols (at least 5 or 6) I talk to or hang out with weekly. I do as much as I can with the community as well as building new interesting things.

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admin August 30, 2011 at 10:57 AM

So, I was going to thank you for participating in Sarah’s study as she is busy at work, but then I clicked on your flickr-album link. Oh, dear! 😛

Those amazing office-buildings, and Star Wars sets, and TRAINS! Dear LEGO gods! THOSE TRAINS! And you have the DUPLO dragons too! And all that lovely mayhem of sorted and unsorted LEGO! That’s like heaven right there! 😆

Not a bad way to ride out the recession! 😉

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Katie August 30, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Good gracious me! What a LEGO room! I’m in awe.

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Shelly H August 30, 2011 at 6:01 PM

The link to the flickr-album didn’t show up. Is it open to the public?

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admin August 30, 2011 at 8:30 PM

Shelly, are you talking about Divinity3D’s flickr album? I just clicked on her name in her comment, and it took me there. I assume the album is public as she was not my contact before (but now, after seeing here LEGO-room, she is). 😀
Here is her raw flickr-album link, maybe this will work better for you: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30428144@N08/

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Shelly H September 1, 2011 at 2:35 AM

Awesome Lego room and builds.

Thanks for the link.

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admin August 30, 2011 at 2:52 PM

UPDATE: I have found an interesting article published today (I guess the topic of girls-boys-&-LEGO is in the air!) that references LEGO as the archeticipal boy-toy. I couldn’t help but write a post about it, referencing the original article: The World of Female LEGO Fans – Part 2
What do you gals think? 🙄

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LegoMom August 31, 2011 at 7:22 PM

Just a question: how do I find Lego groups in my area?

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admin September 1, 2011 at 12:30 PM

You can check out http://www.lugnet.com/. Most LEGO user groups will be listed here. Just follow the “Links” icon on top of the page, and it will give you a list of LUGs by location. If your LUG is not listed there, word-of-mouth is your best option. Check with other parents or LEGO-fans you know in your area. You can also check with your local toys store that carries LEGO, or even at your local library. There is a robotics LEGO club in my neighborhood that meets at our public library regularly.

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admin September 1, 2011 at 3:46 PM

UPDATE: It has come to our attention that some readers feel too shy to share their thoughts on the topic of being a female LEGO fan on a public forum, however they would still like to be part of Sarah’s research project. If this is the case, you may contact Sarah by email: email Sarah.

On the other end, some readers expressed that they have a lot to write on the subject. If you would like to write an entire post on the topic of being an FFOL, rather than just a comment, you can contact me by email (email admin) and I will get your thoughts published for you as part of this series. 😉

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SISE September 14, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Well, it’s partially truth that at least I like to tell stories with my builds. But I rarely do so, I tend to focus more on “presenting my product”, since I exclusively build for a theme of sci-fi war. Interesting enough, I do tend to create a whole backstory for the product I’m presenting, even if I’m not going to post it. It brings some kind of personal accomplishment, it’s hard to define.
Oh, and I’m ok with quotes 🙂

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