Culture

Google helps win new roles for women -- in emoji form

The search giant works with Unicode to create emoji women who do more than wear princess crowns, get hair cuts and wear wedding dresses.

We like to think women can do anything, but what about women emojis? Well, the committee that standardizes these little symbols said Thursday that it would give us more roles for females. Google proposed the changes in May and greeted today's announcement with fanfare on its official blog.

So what are we getting? A female scientist, a female rock star, a female runner... quite a few females. But it's not just emoji women -- roles are opening up for emojis of all genders (for emojis, gender is primarily marked by hair length).

The Unicode Emoji Subcommittee is making it possible for software to display 11 new professional emojis in both genders (and with a range of skin tones and hair colors available). What's more, we'll see the addition of a male or female counterpart to 33 emojis that already existed in only one gender. Now emoji men can get haircuts too!

New professional emojis come in a range of skin tones and hair colors. The emojis will be available as men and women.

New professional emojis come in a range of skin tones and hair colors. The emojis will be available as men and women.

Courtesy of Google

Unicode never conceived emoji as being gendered, the organization said. "To get a greater sense of realism for these characters, however, vendors typically have picked the appearance of a particular gender to display," the emoji subcommittee wrote in its announcement Thursday. "This has led to gender disparities in the emoji that people can use." To help create emojis of both genders, Unicode came up with a technical fix that lets programmers add alternate genders to emojis.

But Google hinted on its official blog that emojis aren't enough, saying the symbols were one of several efforts the company has made to better represent women in tech and to help girls pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, aka STEM, fields.