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Google Wants Job Equality for Female Emoji


16 May 2016 at 9:40 am
Wendy Williams
Search engine giant Google wants to give emoji – those small digital images or smiley faces used to express an idea or emotion – more female representation especially around jobs.

Wendy Williams | 16 May 2016 at 9:40 am


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Google Wants Job Equality for Female Emoji
16 May 2016 at 9:40 am

Search engine giant Google wants to give emoji those small digital images or smiley faces used to express an idea or emotion more female representation especially around jobs.

A group of Google employees has submitted a set of 13 new emoji to the Unicode Consortium in a bid to increase the representation of women in emoji.

Currently the only emoji profession that’s specifically female is the salsa dancer.

But in a proposal entitled Expanding Emoji Professions: Reducing Gender Inequality, the group is calling on Unicode to “empower young women” who are the heaviest emoji users and better reflect the pivotal roles women play in the world.

“Our proposal is to create a new set of emoji that represents 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 proposal said.

“The global women’s equality movement is growing, so the time to create these emoji is now.”

It follows an opinion article by Amy Butcher, Emoji Feminism, published in March in The New York Times, that reflects on the current state of female emoji.

She wrote: “Where, I wanted to know, was the fierce professor working her way to tenure? 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.”

The team at Google said they believed they could have a larger positive impact by adding 13 new emoji that depict women across a representative sample of professions.

The new emoji would cover business, health, science, education, technology, industry, farming, food service and music.

“For millions of people around the world, emoji are an important means of communication and a strong representation of culture. Yet the roles of people in the workplace cannot be communicated with emoji. This is especially true for women,” the proposal said.

“All around the world, gender inequity is a focus. No matter where you look, women are gaining visibility and recognition as never before. Isn’t it time that emoji also reflect the reality that women play a key role in every walk of life and in every profession?

“Given the fact that women are the most frequent emoji users, and that they span a wide professional spectrum not yet reflected in current emoji, we want to help address this pressing matter of equality.”

Dr Caroline Lambert, CEO of YWCA  Australia said she was delighted with the proposal.

“We’re delighted to see Google having expanded their emoji collection to reflect the true reality of women’s lives across Australia,” Lambert told Pro Bono Australia News.

“The way we visually represent the work that women do, or don’t as the case has been with the emojis that we have had access to fundamentally informs the way we think about what women and men are capable of, and it reinforces harmful stereotypes that are based really back in the 1930s.

“I think we need to see emojis being far more women friendly, and far more diversity friendly generally. They absolutely represent the dominant power group in our society, so whether you are a woman, whether you are a person of colour, whether or not your are a person with a disability, emojis kind of speak to the white male, able-bodied experience, and they are a minority in the community in terms of population but the dominant group in terms of political power, economic power and voice.”

The team at Google hopes to standardise these emoji by the end of the year.


Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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