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Google asks Unicode to look over 13 new emoji showing professional women

Doctors, scientists, software engineers and even rock stars

By Simon Sharwood, 11 May 2016

Google has decided that emoji need to offer better role models for women and has therefore proposed 13 new ones, all depicting women in the workplace.

Google's proposal (PDF) says the company “wants to increase the representation of women in emoji” and therefore suggests “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 proposed emoji are characterised as:

  • Business - Office worker, accountant, banker, manager, financial adviser, tax preparer, clerk
  • Healthcare - Doctor, physician, MD
  • Healthcare - Nurses, dentist, anesthesiologist, radiologist
  • Scientist - Scientist, chemist, lab technician
  • Education – Graduate
  • Technology - Software engineer, person coding, working on laptop
  • Industry - Factory worker, metallurgical worker, mechanic
  • Industry - High tech industry worker, assembly line worker
  • Industry - Mechanic, repair person, plumber, handy person
  • Farming – Farmer
  • Food service – Chef, cook
  • Education - Teacher, professor
  • Music – Rocker, rockstar

Google's four submitters cite a New York Times op-ed by Amy Butcher in which she wrote “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 four Googlers also point out various studies that show women are the main users of emoji, so surely deserve emoji that go beyond cliches.

The thirteen chosen emoji are also based on research into the most common occupations and take into account recent campaigns encouraging women and girls into professions in which they are under-represented.

Emoji usually have secondary representations, but Google argues its 13 proposed characters should be depicted as women only because that's the point of this whole idea.

The proposal ends with a call for “other members of Unicode to join us in creating a system of emoji design that can accommodate a broader gender spectrum.” ®

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