Google Developers Design 13 Feminist Emojis To Break Down Stereotypes & Promote Equality

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You know there’s an inherent gender bias problem within the tech world when Kim Kardashian releases better “Kimojis” than the default emojis that exist on our phones already. Yep, in her custom-made app, she appears in a far more diverse range of activities than the females on your regular phone keyboard.

But thanks to the increasing amount of noise being made about this issue, Google developers have designed 13 new feminist emojis which will offer a range of professional female emojis which you can choose from. We already know there are probably many people are are rolling their eyes, thinking “there go those feminists making a big deal out of a small issue, when there are much bigger things to pay attention to”.

You’d be right! There ARE indeed much bigger and more important issues to put our energy toward. However, the introduction of feminist emojis do not actually distract from the issues, they are in fact a small part of how the message of gender equality can filter into a small, yet everyday detail of our technology-driven lives.

At a recent Unicode Consortium, Google made the announcement and tied it in with their ongoing effort to promote diversity and gender equality within their company, and elsewhere 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…we believe we can have a larger positive impact by adding 13 new emoji that depict women across a representative sample of professions. We believe this will empower young women (the heaviest emoji users), and better reflect the pivotal roles women play in the world,” they said in a press statement.

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Some of the statistical evidence for making this decision include the fact that 92% of online consumers use emojis, and 78% are women compared to 60% of men. It’s also no surprise that over 70% of that demo are younger than 29 years of age.

The Google developers also state that this important move on their behalf is reflective of what is happening elsewhere in American as well as global society today – we are getting very close to possibly electing our first ever female President in Hillary Clinton, the US Treasury just announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will appear on the $20 bill, and the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals which put great emphasis on gender equality in order to eliminate poverty by the year 2030.

“The global women’s equality movement is growing, so the time to create these emoji is now. All around the world, gender inequity is a focus,” said Google.

The new series of female emojis will include a surgeon, scientist, engineer, university graduate and businesswoman, and will be ready by the end of the year. In the meantime, this isn’t the first discussion where the lack of equally represented emojis has come under fire.

Hygiene brand Always, which has dominated the femvertising market since the release of their viral “Like A Girl” video a couple of years ago, has subsequently been capitalizing on the attention they have gained by continuing to challenge our preconceived ideas about gender representation.

In March, Always released their latest video called ‘Girl Emojis’ and delved into just how impactful something as small as an emoji (or lackthereof) can affect the way a girl thinks about what is possible for her in the world.

“72% of girls feel that society limits them, by dictating what they should and shouldn’t do. Sometimes, these limiting messages can be found in unexpected and subtle places – like on your phone. They may seem small, but emojis are more than just funny faces. They’ve become how girls express themselves in text and online. But do emojis truly represent girls? Always asked, and it turns out 67% of girls feel that even emojis imply that girls are limited,” said the description of the video.

“There’s no girls in the professional emojis, unless you count being a bride a profession,” says one girl in the video.

“Girls love emojis, but there aren’t enough emojis to say what girls do. That’s just how things are,” said another.

These comments exhibit the depressing notion that women are to be solely valued for their appearance, rather than their actions. Girls get this message from a very young age through mediums like entertainment, magazines, advertising, fashion and what they see on television, as outlined in the documentary ‘Miss Representation’.

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Now with the dominant impact of digital media, the use of emojis is clearly not just a way for young girls and boys to have fun on their phone, but also subconsciously feeds them messages about how greater society views what certain genders can do.

Google (as well as Kim Kardashian!) are not the only brands changing the emoji game. Entrepreneur Amy Galland created an app called FlirtyQWERTY which offer a custom design set of sexy emojis designed to take the shaming out of the virtual dating world.

With apps like Tinder being common place in the relationship industry, and plenty of sexism and bullying being associated with it, Amy’s plan was to show that sex and the desire for it should not be a shameful thing, and is giving women especially the tools to make it fun, not intimidating.

Soon after Always released its Girl Emoji video, another hygiene brand Bodyform released its own set of period-relating emojis and created a campaign for their idea so they could submit it to Unicode. The idea behind the six Bodyform images was to help break down stigma around menstruation, and give women the tool to communicate with other people about it in a way that is less shameful and stigmatized, and more normalized.

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“Periods can be a topic of embarrassment for our target audience, which is predominantly young girls and women. It can create some anxiety. We know that emoji is the fastest growing language in the world and is something that girls absolutely use, which is how ‘femojis’ came about. From our research around the femojis, girls told us they do want to talk about periods, but simply don’t have the tools to do it,” said the brand’s marketing director Nicola Coronado.

With the news of Google’s 13 feminist emojis, we can now see that this marketing push is more than just some superficial feminist agenda, it is part of the digital world we live in and can become a powerful way to battle gender bias using the very platforms that give us the tools to do so.

In their report, Google also said this change is the first in a series the plan to roll out in the future to be even more inclusive.

“We recognize the importance of having an inclusive representation of all people in emoji, whether they identify with a specific gender or not. We believe an egalitarian, sensitive, and compelling representation of gender in emoji is extremely important,” they said.

The true test will be to see just how the impact of something like an inclusive emoji will have on a generation of prolific digital technology users. If it is going to help in the fight for gender equality in all the currently male-dominated ones, that is a win in our eyes.

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One Comment

  1. Pingback: Custom emoji, moms defending screentime + more | Cool Mom Tech

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