We need more emojis with men hugging each other
Photo: La Vanguardia
Anna Torres Garrote

There is now an emoji for the female computer engineer, doctor, teacher and car mechanic. These are among the 13 new images Google has created to promote the representation of working women. Is this a step forward that allows women to be treated in the same way as men?    Two UOC experts on gender and ICT, Begonya Enguix and Ana Mara Gonzlez, both say that it is not, since what is really needed is a “cultural transformation”. However, they do acknowledge that it is a step in right direction, since “it highlights the demand of a population group who considers such a transformation to be necessary”, Gonzlez points out.

These new emojis are “a tool that gives visibility to different professional possibilities”, says Enguix, although she acknowledges that “it does not aspire to be anything more”. She adds that it implies a “major bias”, since it is aimed solely at women who use digital media.

The proposal of the researcher Ana Mara Gonzlez is to create emojis of men hugging each other in order to “promote their empathy and emotional intelligence”.

Enguix warns that creating emojis of men in locations and professions culturally considered not to be very masculine will be of little use either, since “they are bound to be interpreted as gay men”, thus reinforcing the stereotypes even further.

What needs to be done to combat gender inequality?

According to the experts, we need to offer diversity that reflects a complex society made up of a variety of ethnic groups, ages, sexual orientations, genders... Advertising is now moving in this direction. Gonzlez provides an example of this with the advertisement for Prncipe biscuits, in which the protagonist “has certain traits we associate with femininity”.

Currently, emojis are available in six colours to reflect ethnic origin… “Why not create emojis with diverse identities?”, asks the researcher. Gonzlez claims that neutral emojis “ignore reality”.

Women use emojis more

Both experts say that the main reason women use emojis more is because they consider themselves “more emotional and more expressive” than men, whereas men consider themselves “more practical and rational”. “This has produced depictions of roles that have been very damaging and which do nothing for equality”, Enguix concludes.


Photograph of Begonya Enguix Grau

Begonya Enguix Grau

Lecturer in the Arts and Humanities Department
Director of the interuniversity bachelor's degree programme in Anthropology and Human Evolution

Expert in: Anthropology of gender and sexuality; body and identities; urban and media anthropology.

Knowledge area: Social and cultural anthropology.

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Photograph of Ana Mara Gonzlez Ramos

Ana Mara Gonzlez Ramos

Researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3)

Expert in: Careers in science; mobility; gender and ICT; the digital divide; science and technology; scientific policy; digital inclusion; brain circulation.

Knowledge area: Gender and ICT, information and knowledge society.

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