Toronto Tech CEO Points Out Sexism of Emojis

Many of our favourite emojis are technically supposed to be gender neutral. So why is it that the police officer or construction worker only represent men, and the haircut, dancer and wedding emojis only represent women?

But luckily for those females who are construction workers or police officers, this will hopefully become a thing of the past as emjois are set to become more inclusive moving forward, NBC News reports.

A proposal has been submitted to the Unicode Consortium, the non-profit organization that controls how all of the emjois work and look across social media and app platforms. The proposal has called for emojis to become customizable, which would allow users to customize hair colour and gender of human-like emojis and let object emojis show different patterns.

This is a move that couldn’t come sooner, as many women are starting to become fed up with how women are portrayed in the media – even when it comes to something as simple as emojis.

“If you scroll through the emoji options… there is a lot of pink and hearts and lipstick, kisses, a pink purse — a lot of emojis that are very stereotypically girly,” said Heather Payne, CEO of HackerYou, a Toronto-based programming boot camp, to the Toronto Star.

“A lot of people wouldn’t even notice until the moment you’re trying to use an emoji that represents (you),” she said. “If we’re trying to move society forward, it probably makes sense to have emojis that represent everybody.”

Payne also raised the question of why there isn’t a police officer with a female haircut.

It’s a minor change that seems so simple to do yet requires a lot of additional work, as the change would need to operate correctly on all Unicode Consortium platforms.

“What the body looks like is not up to Unicode, necessarily, but the people who make the graphic art,” said Gretchen McCulloch, a Montreal-based linguist who is writing a book about Internet language, in an interview with the Toronto Star.

“Unicode doesn’t mandate the girls to be in pink. That was a decision on the part of Apple’s graphic design team.”

So what might show up on an Apple device may be completely different on another platform.

Moving forward, we can only hope that the proposed document to implement these changes is passed. Before that can happen, however, major tech companies like Apple and Google need to agree to it.

The proposal was created by emoji experts (yes, they actually exist) at Apple and Google, so there’s a chance we could see female police officer emojis sooner rather than later.