A team of four Google employees has developed a set of 13 emoji designed to better represent women in the professional world. In a presentation to the Unicode Consortium, the body that approves and standardizes emoji, the team says the new emoji depict "a wide range of professions for women and men, with a goal of highlighting the diversity of women's careers and empowering girls everywhere."
These aren't just female versions of existing male emoji. The Google team is proposing that new male and female emoji be displayed by combining characters that are already in place; for example, a female farmer would be coded under the hood as woman plus tractor, while a male surgeon would be man plus hospital. The professional fields include business, healthcare, science, education, technology, industry, farming, food service, and music, with the latter category featuring an homage to the late David Bowie.
The Google team cites a recent New York Times op-ed called "Emoji Feminism" as capturing the motivation behind its work, quoting the following excerpt:
"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."
"We believe we can have a larger positive impact by adding 13 new emoji that depict women across a representative sample of professions," the Google team writes. "We believe this will empower young women (the heaviest emoji users), and better reflect the pivotal roles women play in the world."
The team says it would like to get the new emoji standardized by the end of 2016, and it probably has a good shot of achieving that goal — one member, Mark Davis, is co-founder and president of the Unicode Consortium.