OWU Professor Inspires #Emoji Feminism

When Google employees introduced 13 new emojis earlier this year, they credited Ohio Wesleyan University faculty member Amy Butcher, with helping to inspire the images of strong, professional women.

Butcher decried the lack of such electronic icons in a recent New York Times opinion column titled “Emoji Feminism.” In the essay, she described wanting to congratulate a coworker on earning tenure and having to settle for emojis of flamenco dancers and unicorns.

Upon learning of Google’s efforts to remedy the digital dilemma, Butcher said, “Although it may seem a small and seemingly insignificant slight, the lack of diversity in our emoji vocabulary mirrors the much larger issue within mainstream culture of a lack of strong female representation, particularly as it pertains to industry and the workplace.

“Considering emojis are used primarily by young women, and at a rate of over 80 percent by the younger generation as a whole, it sets a problematic and tiring precedent that women are only princesses, brides, or beings exclusively interested in pampering.

“Women are diverse, dimensional, and now the majority breadwinners in American homes,” she concluded. “It’s incredibly cool and a great honor that Google recognizes the importance in accurate and respectful representation and, in that way, in revising the everyday narrative.”

After the announcement, Butcher was contacted by media outlets including the London, England-based BBC Radio 5 live program. Hear her BBC interview.

OWU Associate Chaplain Lisa Ho said it was exciting to see the impact of Butcher’s New York Times essay.

“I seriously could not be any more proud of this woman,” Ho says. “This is what it means to follow your passion and change the world, even if it’s one emoji at a time! I can’t wait to use the new professor/teacher emoji designed just for Amy.”