Remember way back in May when a group of Google employees submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium requesting more gender diverse emoji to replace the fixed standard? Well, while those new emoji aren't here just yet, there's some exciting news on that front — Unicode has apparently approved the proposal and is moving forward, adding an impressive range of emoji depicting professional women that more accurately reflect the diversity of women's careers and the contributions we make to the world. You know, other than doing the tango or getting hitched. Both of which are cool, of course, but we're capable of doing other things, too — sometimes at the same time. Scientists can tango, too, after all.
In a blog post published on July 14, Google addressed the development, saying, "Today, the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee has agreed to add 11 new professional emoji, in both male and female options with all the skin tones. That's more than 100 new emoji to choose from!" As part of the update, Unicode is also making 33 existing emoji gender fluid — you can pick whether you want your haircut emoji to be a man or a woman, and so on. Women can look forward to having emoji that actually look like us and represent the vast number of roles we hold in society. Safety-goggled-scientist-lady emoji? Check. Fierce female rock star emoji? Check. Badass welder woman emoji? Check. And the list goes on, even.
If you use Facebook Messenger, you've been enjoying greater gender diversity among your emoji offerings since June, so you may be wondering how this update will be any different. For starters, the Messenger emoji update was much narrower in scope — specifically, it recoded five historically male emoji (pedestrian, police officer, jogger, swimmer, and surfer) to be available in female form as well, with the promise that more would roll out over time. Not only will Google's update obviously offer many more gender-flexible emoji, but it also boasts another huge benefit: because Unicode makes sure that people can send and receive the same emoji whether they have different phones or not, these updates will essentially be universal and included in all platforms moving forward.
One particularly fantastic aspect of this push for emoji equality is the focus on women in typically male-dominated fields. "These new emoji are one of several efforts we're making to better represent women in technology, and to connect girls with the education and resources they need to pursue careers in STEM," the Google blog post explained, continuing, "We hope these updates help make emoji just a little more representative of the millions of people around the world who use them."
This is big news, y'all! While the argument could be made there are much bigger things going on in the world to worry about, the truth is this update speaks to the heart of many issues in which our country is currently mired. Why? It all comes down to inclusivity. In the past, marginalized groups like women and people of color have had no choice but to view the world through the perspective of affluent, white men. Even until very recently, something seemingly as simple as emoji reflected as much by reinforcing gendered norms and limiting available skin tones.
The bottom line is we should have equality across the board. Since emoji is rapidly emerging as a preferred method of communication, it's only natural and fair that women (and other systematically marginalized groups of society) are represented in a way that honors the depth of our presence. If ever there was a time for the praise hands emoji, that time is now, people.