Where are the (emoji) women?

Earlier this year, I was pleased when my phone offered me the option of assigning different skin tones to the tiny faces I often include in text messages. Score one, I thought, for diversity in digital culture.

What I missed, though, was another subtle bias in this fast growing communication tool: There are very few emojis depicting professional women. As Mic’s Sophie Kleeman points out:

Women who want to use something other than a neutral female emoji have the following options to choose from: a princess, a bride, twins that resemble Playboy bunnies, a dancer in a red dress and a series of “information desk person” characters… Men get the “serious” professional roles, and women get the “girlie” ones.

As Kleeman goes on to explain, this isn’t the most pressing feminist issue out there – but I still think it’s important. Emojis are becoming a bigger part of our digital lives, and it’s problematic if they don’t allow us to properly express a full range of female experiences. Or at least as full a range as is possible with itty-bitty cartoons.


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