While it’s difficult to undo decades of biases that had unconsciously taught children to equate masculinity with strength and femininity to something less, there are many small and creative ways we could do to slowly change this narrative. This week, we’re putting the spotlight on Atty. Inez Vasquez (iv_lego). Her passion for collecting & building LEGOs led her to help shape a community that encourages women to nurture their ingenuity and introduces young minds to a world without limits.
“The struggle to overcome pre-conceived notions that there are toys for girls and toys for boys is very, very real,” Inez shared. “I feel this a lot as a young mother, because there are people who still tell my kids they cannot do or like certain things because of their gender. LEGO is awesome because it’s a toy for girls AND boys. For example, the Duplo My First Tow Truck (Set 10918) is printed with both girl and boy drivers. Duplo also uses different colored skin tones for its people, and it’s absolutely great having brown colored figures to represent my kids.”
Inez is part of @TeamPMSph, a Filipina-led group of collectors and builders, and the Women’s Brick Initiative (WBI)- an online group committed to the advancement of all women in the LEGO community. “It cannot be denied that a vast majority of fans, collectors, and builders are male. Aside from inspiring women and girls to join the LEGO hobby, the WBI provides support (for women) through workshops and maintaining a safe, nurturing environment online. The latter is particularly important because the internet is not exactly the kindest place.”
Apart from promoting diversity and inclusion, Inez has been using her creations to raise awareness about Philippine biodiversity. She builds LEGO models of endemic Philippine flowers like Rafflesia and Waling Waling, and has even collaborated with the Forest Foundation Philippines (FFP). “My favorite is a model of a little girl wearing a honeybee costume (called Bibi the Honeybee), the instructions for which were published by FFP on Instagram as part of its honeybee education campaign.”
Her advice for girls and young women seeking to make a dent in male-dominated worlds: “Believe in yourself and take that first step to make your path because nobody else can make it for you.”