Last year we welcomed same-sex couples and diverse skin-tones to our emoji keyboards. The same keyboards which offer 12 different types of train, all types of weather and a selection of world foods.
But, when it comes to women, we are limited to emojis of princesses, sassy painted nails and dancing bunny girls – while men get to be policemen, medics, detectives, runners, swimmers, and, er, Father Christmas.
Not for long. Google employees have designed a range of new emojis aimed at promoting gender equality in the workplace. If all goes to plan, women might soon be able to communicate using 13 realistic new cartoons, including female engineers, chemists, plumbers and farmers.
The Google team presented the 13 new designs on Tuesday before an “emoji subcommittee” in Silicon Valley, California. Which, as subcommittees go, sounds pretty fun.
“No matter where you look, women are gaining visibility and recognition as never before,” the four Google workers write in their proposal. “Isn’t it time that emoji also reflect the reality that women play a key role in every walk of life and in every profession?”
Millions of people across the world use emojis to communicate, and women under 30 are by far the most frequent users. “It’s not surprising,” says the Google proposal, “that women and men are increasingly vocal about the need for more accurate female representation in emoji professions.”
It might seem like a trivial issue, but a survey carried out by Always in March 2016 found that 70 per cent of girls felt emojis failed to represent them properly. In the mini-documentary that accompanied the findings, adolescent girls were asked what they felt about emojis. One teenage girl commented: “There’s no girl in the profession emojis, unless you count being a bride as a profession.” (Sidenote: there’s no groom emoji.)
“Society has a tendency to send subtle messages that can limit girls to stereotypes,” says filmmaker Lucy Walker, who created the video.
If approved, the new career-friendly emojis could appear on phones this year, according to The Guardian. We should learn more about whether they'll get the go-ahead later this summer – stay tuned.