The Digital Evolution of Gender

A Visual Analysis of Women’s Representation Through Emoji Communication
  • Raquel Forma KlafkeEmail author
  • Daniela Kutschat Hanns
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 850)


For the past 20 years, the Unicode Consortium put efforts to implement a consistent pictorial alphabet across multiple systems and platforms: the emoji. This long term, continuous initiative intended to narrow the gap between face-to-face and digital communication, adding subjective cues – such as emotions – and synthesizing textual content into smaller information units to optimize interactions through computers and mobile devices. As the graphical technology gained complexity, the emoji’s aesthetic developed as well, embracing new symbolic possibilities regarding user experience. This short paper aims to develop a qualitative visual analysis within a range of 20 years – from 2000 to 2017 – to better understand how one particular symbolic feature, the gender, was addressed in digital communication. The work will be organized as a comparative visual timeline, showing how the study object gained complexity, new attributions and purposes. The historical progression will be based on notable examples of interface history, especially ICQ and Apple, with its correspondent emoji set decomposed within a design perspective – colors, textures and forms. The gendered dimension was chosen due its contemporary importance in community discussion, political measures and mediatic repercussion. As a result, the poster will demonstrate how the language influence (and can be influenced) by technology and cultural demands, growing as an emergent, complex and vivid system.


Emoji Digital language Gender Visual design 


  1. 1.
    Gülşen, T.T.: You tell me in emojis. In: Computational and Cognitive Approaches to Narratology, pp. 57–65 (2016)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Oliveira, E., Paiva, V.L.M.: A linguagem dos emojis. Trabalhos em Linguística Aplicada 55(2), 379–399 (2016). Campinas, Maio/AgostoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Davis, M., Edberg, P.: Unicode Technical Standard #51: Unicode Emoji. The Unicode Consortium (2017).
  4. 4.
    Lupton, E.: Novos Fundamentos do Design. Cosac Naify, São Paulo (2008)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Royo, J.: Design Digital. Edições Rosari, São Paulo (2008)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Oliveira e Paiva, V.L.M.: (2016)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Oliveira, M.K.: O verbal e o não-verbal. In: Revista USP, São Paulo, no. 16, pp. 52–61 (1992)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Pentland, A.S.: Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World. MIT Press, Cambridge (2010)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gülşen, T.T.: (2016)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Crystal, D.: A revolução da linguagem. Jorge Zahar, Rio de Janeiro (2005)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Pardes, A.: The Wired Guide to Emoji. Wired (2018).
  12. 12.
    Pardes, A.: (2018)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Been, R.: Expanding Emoji Professions: Reducing Gender Inequality. The Unicode Consortium (2016).
  14. 14.
    Hunt, P.: What is Gender and Why Does it Matter to Emoji? Emojipedia.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of São PauloSão PauloBrazil

Personalised recommendations