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Google proposes new emojis to represent professional women

Wed 11 May 2016

Female emojis

Google has proposed a new set of emojis designed to empower women, representing female characters in STEM roles and ‘real-life’ occupations.

The collection of 13 emojis include women working across a range of sectors including business, healthcare, farming, construction, science and education. The icons are created by combining existing emojis, with both male and female versions. For example, selecting a woman and a tractor would result in a female farmer, and a man plus a microscope would create a male scientist.

The four Google employees have formally submitted the designs to the Unicode Consortium, which approves and standardises emoji. The designers noted in a proposal [PDF] that the collection would reflect a ‘wide range of professions for women and men with a goal of highlighting the diversity of women’s careers and empowering girls everywhere.’

The design team also explained in the proposal that they drew inspiration for the icons after reading a New York Times op-ed on sexism in emojis, in which Amy Butcher writes:

‘Where was the lawyer? The accountant? The surgeon? How was there space for both a bento box and a single fried coconut shrimp, and yet women were restricted to a smattering of tired, beauty-centric roles? This was not a problem for our male emoji brethren. Men were serving on the police force, working construction and being Santa. Meanwhile, on our phones, it was Saturday at the Mall of America — women shopping while men wrote the checks.’

Despite their light nature, the procedure to approve emojis is surprisingly formal. However, Google’s new proposal is not expected to face huge struggle, as one of the team members, Mark Davis, is president of the Unicode Consortium.

The team concludes its proposal calling for ‘other members of Unicode to join… in creating a system of emoji design that can accommodate a broader gender spectrum.’

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