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Here are the reasons why icons are sexist




Symbols that seem like a small part of the digital landscape point to greater problems of unconscious inclination in technology and beyond.

In many cases, I remember them, from company presentations to popular apps and websites, icons that were obviously representative of men. At best, this shows that women were not considered when the product team designed and developed the product. In the worst case, women isolate the feeling that they are not the intended audience or the intended priority.

Maybe I am aware of it, because the gender imbalance is important to me, and as a designer I am attentive to details. However, it is something more stakeholders need to consider when choosing symbols. And I say "voting" because it is actually a choice. Whether conscious or not, somebody eventually made the decision that the icon appears as a man.

There are so many other ways to approach this notion that it seems silly and archaic not to make the change. Why do not you have male and female symbols together to be more inclusive, use a gender neutral symbol or even have different icons displayed depending on the gender of the user? Another element to keep in mind is not only that there are more symbols that represent women, but also what the male and female symbols represent. For example, while a male symbol represents a scientist and a female symbol represents a teacher that includes both sexes, it also reinforces stereotypes of career types that affect particular genders.

There are many other ways to achieve this that it does not seem stupid and archaic to make the change.

An example of a company that made the conscious decision to change its icons to be more inclusive is Facebook. The symbols for friends and groups had the male symbol in front and in the middle, while the female symbol was clearly behind. The company deliberately changed the symbols so that the female was at eye level with the male. While this may seem like a small change, it does indicate an awareness of the imbalance and the attempt to change it.


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