The popularity of emoji, whether purists like it or not, is incontestable. A report last year claimed that 92% of the online population used emoji, and another report said that it was the fastest growing language in the United Kingdom. But like all languages, emoji too can carry a hint of prejudice. Critics say the cartoons discriminate against women by mostly showing men in professional roles.
So to commemorate World Emoji Day on July 17, Google has announced 11 new emoji to promote gender equality. They represent both women and men in a variety of professions, including farmer, chef, doctor and computer scientist.
Google had proposed several emoji to the Unicode Technical Committee in May, but the official body responsible for setting a standard of characters across the computing industry approved 11 professional ones. The factory line worker and dentist missed the cut. With all the professions in different skin tones, that’s over 100 new emoji.
Google announced that Unicode will also add male and female versions to 33 existing emoji. “You’ll be able to pick both a female runner emoji and a male runner emoji, or a man or woman getting a haircut,” the company said in a blog post.
Fortune magazine reported that the new additions might take a while before showing up on smartphones. “The next set of new additions to be included in Unicode 10.0 isn’t scheduled to be finalized until the fourth quarter of this year and then rolled out in June 2017,” it said.
World Emoji Day was started by Jeremy Burge, the founder of Emoji database Emojipedia. This year, Twitter has created a custom emoji to mark the day. It will show up all weekend when users tweet #WorldEmojiDay. The hashtag was also the number one trending hashtag on Twitter last year.
According to Twitter, the most popular emoji used in India is folded hands.
In another testament of the popularity of emoji, Herman Melville's Moby Dick was translated using Japanese emoticons into a book called Emoji Dick. Eight hundred people laboured for about 3,795,980 seconds in the crowd-sourced and crowd-funded project to create the book.