With a goal of highlighting the diversity of women’s careers and empowering girls everywhere Google has proposed that it wants professional women to be better represented in emoji form.
“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?” said a proposal from a team of Google employees that was submitted to the Unicode Consortium, which serves as the midwife to new emoji.
The proposal says women — and those under 30 in particular are the most frequent users of emojis.
A group of Google employees has submitted a set of 13 new emoji to the Unicode Consortium.
Sample emojis provided by Google in the proposal show several female characters in professional clothing, including business suits, lab coats, medical scrubs and construction hats. One sample emoji even has a pitchfork and a farmer’s hat. Google has also included sample male versions of the same emojis.
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.”
Even the United States First Lady Michelle Obama has weighed in on the issue, voicing her support for a new “girl studying emoji” in a tweet in March.The proposal cited the importance of having gender-neutral emoji as well.
“However, as this is not the focus of this effort, we suggest decoupling the gender-neutral representation of emoji from this proposal,” it said.
Even after the final version of a new emoji has been approved, there is more to be done.Vendors have to work on them and manufacturers have to add them to smartphones.
“These don’t magically appear once we approve them,” Unicode Consortium founder and president Mark Davis said in an interview about 67 other new emoji last fall.
Davis is also part of the four-person Google team that proposed the new emoji.
Google wants Unicode to standardize the emojis by the end of the year.