Equality: One emoji at a time

Yesterday was filled with flowery rhetoric and empowering quotes of strong females to celebrate International Women’s Day. At the peak of the largest feminist movement of all time, girls are embracing their strength and ability to do anything a man can do.

But on every other day of the year, how does society respond to the idea of strong females?

It is estimated 6 billion emojis are sent per day, according to Swyft Media, and teenage girls are responsible for at least billion of that output. In fact, they are so popular that Oxford Dictionary announced “emoji” was its 2015 word of the year.

emoji_set_138But when it comes to the gender of the emojis, the representation of females fall short. They mainly feature a girl wearing a pink shirt pampering herself (for example cutting her hair or painting her nails). Now, that’s fine because I’m a girl and I like getting my hair cut or having my nails painted every now and again, but that’s certainly not all we do by any means. I’m not offended by these emojis. I’m offended when I see the comparison.

With 100+ emojis to choose from, a variety of careers and sports are spotlighted.

police  detective swim biking emojis

Just to list a few.

And while it’s great emojis are so versatile in terms of occupations, but there’s just one major problem: they’re all men. Meanwhile, here’s what we get:


Prior to the release of the Always #LikeAGirl campaign’s latest video “Girl Emojis”, I hadn’t taken note of how little female representation there is. In my mind, emojis became more inclusive lately. You can select what race they are, so I just find it surprising that gender hasn’t also been equally accounted for.

Although this seems like such a small thing to worry about (which admittedly, it is), it is reflective of the bigger issues facing women. This is the way we are perceived. We aren’t taken seriously enough to be a policeman or a detective. We aren’t athletic enough to go mountain biking or swim competitively. We aren’t smart enough to be anything more than the wife of a successful man. We should just stay home while our breadwinning husband goes to work day after day to make the buck.

As a wildly independent woman, I am insulted by this perception. I grew up in a family where I was told I could do anything and I believed it. I still do, however, as I continued to grow up, I began to understand that the opportunities will be more scarce in comparison to someone who just so happens to have a Y chromosome. He will get the promotion, he will get better pay.

These emojis just reflect societal perceptions, so it’s not just about the little icons you text to your friends. It’s something much deeper than that. I know this issue is so far rooted that I can’t possible sum it up in one blog post. But what I do suggest is to take small steps. Emojis should be created so young girls begin to see women in those sorts of roles, even if it’s just in a small iMessage goofing off with a friend. This minuscule push could lead to more change.

Then, maybe one day, when we hear the word “lawyer”, we will picture a powerful woman in a pantsuit rather than a man in a tie. Maybe when we think of “doctor” we will see a ponytailed-female in scrubs rather than a male. Maybe we will finally reach equality, one small step at a time.


One thought on “Equality: One emoji at a time

  1. I know if I am ever accused of doing something illegal, I know whom I will get to represent me. That’s right; my granddaughter! You will never stop until justice is served!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s