Design as Activism – More Gender Neutral Design

After doing some more research I found out that some countries are losing the outdated look on gender roles. For example ‘Sweden took a big step last year in addressing this trend by adding a gender-neutral personal pronoun “hen” to the country’s vocabulary. A children’s clothing company in Sweden has done away with its designated boys’ and girls’ sections to become a gender-neutral outlet’.

‘A major pro to raising a gender-neutral baby is that you will be allowing your child to develop without the artificially created limitations that society has placed around gender,’. ‘As human beings, we crave to make life simpler and new information easier to digest. So we naturally want to establish categories, or boxes, that everything needs to fit into.’ ‘these gender norms are too limiting and can make kids feel like they have to be something they’re not–and this can keep kids from being as happy and healthy as possible.’

I also found a website campaign battling a similar issue, they are called Let Toys Be Toys. They are ‘asking the toy and publishing industries to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys and books as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys. Toys are for fun, for learning, for stoking imagination and encouraging creativity. Children should feel free to play with the toys that most interest them.’

Above is the new advert for Symths the toy store. At first it seems to play on gender stereotypes with the boy playing on a bike but after hes wearing a princess dress and wants to be the queen. It’s encouraging to see this current advert not using outdated gender roles in toys, they are one of the retails that have noticed the problem and are doing something about it. It also shows the kid wanting to be toys, the toys being all different sorts from Barbie’s to Nerf Guns showing other kids that is not wrong to like every toy.


Sources Used:

  • “I am solely a professional – neutral and genderless”: on gender bias and gender awareness in the medical profession, Risberg, Gunilla, Umeå University medical dissertations, 2004

  • Gender in LittleBigPlanet: Analysis of LittleBigPlanet’s Costumes, Åkerfelt, Nicolina ; Johansson, Magnus ; Hrynczenko, Iwona Uppsala universitet, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Historisk-filosofiska fakulteten, Institutionen för speldesign, 2016

  • Genusneutral mönsterformgivning för barnkläder med avseende på färg och motiv
    Gender neutral pattern design for children’s clothing regarding color and motif, Brandt, Josefine ; Rönnberg, Niklas ; Löwgren, Jonas Linköpings universitet, Institutionen för teknik och naturvetenskap, Medie- och Informationsteknik ; Linköpings universitet, Tekniska högskolan, Medie- och Informationsteknik, 2016

  • https://www.parents.com/parenting/should-you-raise-a-gender-neutral-baby/ (accessed 11th Dec)

  • http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/projects/parenting-gender-neutral/ (accessed 11th Dec)

  • http://lettoysbetoys.org.uk/about-2/ (accessed 11th Dec)
  • Print & Pattern, Bowie Style, 2010, Laurence King Publishing Ltd
  • Print & Pattern Kids, Bowie Style, 2013, Laurence King Publishing Ltd
  • The Pattern Base, Kristi O’Meara, 2015, Thames & Hudson Ltd

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