Dear Apple, please rethink gendered emoji recommendations
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When I was typing on my iPhone recently, I had an extremely unpleasant finding. While the emoji recommendations are typically fine, the first recommendation for "CEO" was a male in business attire. (If you're trying this on your phone try it without changing the capitalizations as: "Ceo" though the recommendations may vary from phone to phone. Also try: "Cto" "Cfo" and "Doctor")
At a time when women earn $0.78 for every $1 a man makes and women hold 5% of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies, this discovery felt like salt in the wound.
This may be an unintended consequence of a small design feature, but its implication is strong. Is this the message that you want to send to your daughters and women around the world? That they shouldn't dream of leading organizations to create the change they wish to see in the world?
Nearly every moment of a female’s life after birth, gender stereotypes are taught and perpetuated. Girls should wear pink. They should play with dolls. They should be “sweet” and “kind.” Now these gender stereotype reinforcements are also pervading the digital world. This simple character association implies the many issues inherent in global society. An adult who sees this emoji recommendation might not think twice. However, the influence this has on the youth around the world has a rippling effect. This reinforces the omnipresent notion that men are the only ones capable of being decision makers and change makers. This also shows that it’s more important than ever to keep diversity in mind when hiring and building teams, to ensure that products are designed with all genders and races in mind.
As one of the most influential companies in the world, you have tremendous power and responsibility to create technology and products that help better millions of lives. I urge you to rethink the gendered recommendations to give the male and female emoji equal screen time or eliminate gendered recommendations altogether, so that young girls around the world can be dreamers too.
I'm also not the first person to discover or talk about this. For further reading, see:
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