Facebook: Subtle Change; Big Leap For Gender Equality

Facebook just made a subtle design change to its icons. Probably lost on the vast majority of its 1.4 billion users, the change is a big leap for gender equality and could profoundly influence perceptions of women. The tiny icons appearing in the upper right-hand corner of the social networking site have been subtly changed.

For years, Facebook used a “friends” icon with a man and woman, the woman positioned behind the man. Worse, the female avatar looked like her shoulder had been lopped off. The new “friends” icon has the female avatar in front of the male icon. Same with the icon for groups of friends, where the female figure is featured prominently:


facebook friends icon


The female avatar herself needed a shoulder and updates to her “Darth Vadar-like helmet” The new female icon has a more modern look and stronger posture. And while she was at it, the male icon has also got a new hairdo.

It is exactly these types of subtle culture biases that contribute to gender inequality in the corporate world for pay as well as leadership positions. Well done, Facebook!


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