Women Wednesday: Emoji Edition

Image from BBC

Yep, this is really going to be a post about emojis.

Google has submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, the body that oversees the coding of new fonts and keyboards (which includes emojis), which outlines the addition of 13 emojis which highlight more diverse careers and opens all career-oriented emojis up to male and female gendered characters.

Current emojis with “careers” are:

  • police officer (male)
  • guardsman (male)
  • sleuth (male)
  • Santa Claus (male)
  • angel (androgynous)
  • princess (female)
  • bride (female)
  • cha-cha dancer (female)
  • playboy bunnies (female)

Clearly the men are winning with sort-of-actual jobs right now.  The proposal, which can be read in full here (and is seriously worth a skim) states:

Google wants to increase the representation of women in emoji and would like to propose that Unicode implementers do the same. 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.

They go on to share data which highlights that teenage girls use emojis most heavily and shows the most commonly-searched emoji terms in Google.

Basically, girls use emojis to talk a lot and sometimes they might want to talk about their dreams of being a doctor or a business professional without typing those words to their friend.  They’re searching for things like “teacher emoji” to presumably try to locate it in the emoji keyboard, and are coming up dry.  (I think more likely they want these emojis to discuss things other than their future, but whatevs.)

On the more subjective non-data-driven side, emojis are a whole new kind of sociolinguism.  If you remember from the time I wrote about the disenfranchising language used in this article about a girls’ soccer team, I think that language is super important to the way that people are perceived and understood.  Along with that, imagery is super important to empowering young people to see themselves in a certain way.  If we can provide girls with more positive images in which they can see themselves and more positive language in which to talk about themselves, we could empower them to actually become what they see and what they say.  If they see doctors more frequently portrayed by women, they may be able to more easily see themselves in that role some day.  If they see a professional soccer player who is a woman, they may be able to see themselves playing soccer and becoming a pro one day.

Needless to say, I’m a big fan of this proposal.  I also love that Google isn’t being at all exclusive with it – for each of their proposals, they have not just a woman drawn up, but a man as well; furthermore, they highlight the need for development of a system which is gender-inclusive.

In summary, I love emojis and I want more emojis of women doing important things.



About the author

Mountain View

A little about me!

Hey! I'm Brianna Hope, a born & bred midwesterner embarking on an adventure as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia. I am clumsy, I spill a lot, and I share most of my interests with 6 year-olds.

Follow me on Snapchat: alabrianna


The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Colombian Government.


Subscribe for blog update

* indicates required