Getting Schooled on Gender-Neutral Product Design Getting Schooled on Gender-Neutral Product Design

Getting Schooled on Gender-Neutral Product Design

By Allie VanNest

Have you met Emily Tuteur? Emily is the director of product design at littleBits, and one of the talented designers responsible for making our Bits and kits so beautiful and user-friendly.

Emily Tuteur, littleBits

Emily has been with littleBits for six years, so she has great perspective into how our aesthetic has changed during that time:

“At littleBits, our products have gone through a number of different design conventions. In our early days, in 2012, we were very crafty — using construction paper and other materials to build on the DIY look. Later, we went in a more polished direction, relying on laser cuts and 3D prints… more modern-looking inventions. Today, I think we’ve struck a powerful balance between those two aesthetics; we’re at a great place between crafty and polished, and our team of designers delights in providing our customers with the most aesthetically pleasing blank canvas possible.”

In order for kids to create and customize their own inventions, the blank canvas is key!

Emily is teaching a new online class via Skillshare, which launched this week, on gender-neutral design. It’s a must-watch for anyone interested in making products accessible to both boys and girls — and it’s FREE. Here’s a preview.


Emily’s Top Tips for Gender-Neutral Product Design

At littleBits, gender neutrality is inherent in everything we do, so Emily had a lot of info to cover. Here are some of the top questions she encourages product designers to ask as they create something new:

1. How does the product look? littleBits is wary of introducing subtle social signals that discourage girls. To that end, we work hard on gender neutrality in our products, packaging, and promotion. Our circuit boards are white, our Bits are candy-colored, our invention ideas are designed to capture kids’ interests no matter where they lie.

2. What does the product do? We know, for example, that robots and vehicles appeal to boys more than girls, so we have come up with ideas – such as high-tech Halloween gadgets and “bots” that draw — that appeal to both genders. We also use bright colors to make our circuits beautiful, which appeal to girls but don’t turn off boys.

3. How can we market the product? In our promotional work, we take care to include great inventions by young girls as well as boys.

Girls clearly have the same innate aptitude as boys for science and technology, but many become plagued by self-doubt and bogged down by stereotypes about which careers are suitable for females. But at the end of the day, kids are interested in what they are interested in. Using art and product design as a lens through which to see technology is a really impactful way to help them see that STEM/STEAM applies to them no matter where their interests lie.

Want to learn more about gender-neutral design? Dive in on Skillshare!

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