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Girl power: Unicode greenlights new emoji of professional women

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there are approximately zero words currently represented in the emoji library to discuss women in the working world — Google and the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee want to change that. The committee approved 11 of the search giant’s 13 original emojis showcasing diverse women working in a variety of fields.

“Today, the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee has agreed to add 11 new professional emoji, in both male and female options and with all the skin tones,” Google wrote. “That’s more than 100 new emoji to choose from.”

The following are the original 13 emojis that Google proposed:


And these are the emojis that have been approved by the subcommittee:

You’ll notice the female nurse and farmer with the pitchfork have been taken out — the thinking is that there are already two similar emojis above that fall under the same category: the doctor and the straw-hatted farmer. On top of that, these emojis are no longer gender-specific for women as Google initially proposed. There will be male equivalents and both genders will see a variety of skin tones.

Emojis, which are widely used by almost anyone with a smartphone, have previously come under fire for their rather one-dimensional depictions. After all, it was only last year that the Unicode Consortium began to include other skin tones to account for racial diversity across the globe. But now in addition to these new emoji, Unicode is also adding male and female variants for 33 existing emoji — for example, you’ll soon be able to choose between a female runner emoji and a male one.

“These additions can be included in future versions of Android and other platforms — because Unicode helps make sure that people with different phones can send and receive the same emoji,” according to Google.

Back in March, Amy Butcher, an assistant professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University, penned an op-ed in The New York Times that Google cites as motivation for its latest project. In her piece, Butcher asked of the available emojis, “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?”

The news comes with great timing as World Emoji Day is July 17. It’s unclear when exactly we can start seeing these emojis, but the Consortium states that “vendors can begin design and implementation work now and can deploy [the new emoji] before the end of 2016.” So we definitely don’t have to wait for Unicode 10, which is set to come out in June 2017.

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