Taking the Equality Conversation to Emoji

Google Emoji
Oct 20, 2016 · 8 min read

Why focus on gender?

Emojis are part of a global language. The lack of fair gender representation sends an implicit message about the roles women play in the world. We wanted to fix this disparity. We weren’t the only ones noticing this problem and asking for a change. Over the last few months, The New York Times, CNN, and Procter & Gamble have referenced the narrow range of emoji women as dancers, brides and princesses.

How did these emoji become a reality?

Proposal

An excerpt of the proposal presented to Unicode.
Deliberation.
Example of a ZWJ sequence.
Professional elements and props.
Original Medical Professional and Farmer.
  1. Clothing — including face props!
  2. Item and hand posture.
We built a limited system of representation.
We looked at full body representations of the professions before deciding on head and shoulders.

What about true gender equality?

People like to see themselves represented in emoji. That’s why people emoji look human, have skin tones, and are gendered. However, the current emoji set only includes options that represent men and women.

What about the future?

As Googlers and individuals we are committed to innovate and make a positive change in the world, so we don’t take this opportunity to shape a universal language lightly. These aren’t just cute images, they are part of how we communicate with each other, and as such they carry powerful implicit messages about the role gender plays in our culture. Our plan is to keep making things that better represent everyone in a fair, respectful, and when appropriate, fun way.

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the practice of design. For editorial content and more visit design.google

Google Emoji

Written by

@rachelbeen and @agustin_fonts write about emoji at Google

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the practice of design. For editorial content and more visit design.google