Change Is Possible: Richard Scarry and New Emoji

After powerful makeovers, two iconic sets of visuals have become more equitable when it comes to gender.

Richard Scarry's classic children's books have been updated.

Richard Scarry’s classic children’s books have entertained generations of children. While the original versions cast female characters in traditionally gendered roles, newer editions have been modified to remove gendered language ("pretty stewardess" became "flight attendant") and show women in a variety of jobs.

For example, the "beautiful screaming lady" (upper left of center) has been changed to "cat in danger" (upper right).

For example, the "beautiful screaming lady" (upper left of center) has been changed to "cat in danger" (upper right).


Scarry began modifying the books in the 70s and continued to make changes through the early 90s. By becoming increasingly inclusive, his work continues to be relevant and fresh decades later.

"Scarry died in 1994, but in accepting criticism and changing his book taught an important lesson about how we interact with art."
David Matthews, Fusion


Google created more emoji that could represent working women.

Google is on the verge of making a change to its emoji so that women are shown as more than brides, princesses, and dancers. Four Google employees have created a proposal for 13 additional emoji that show women in a range of professional roles.

"No matter where you look, women are gaining visibility and recognition as never before," the Google employees wrote. "Isn’t it time that emoji also reflect the reality that women play a key role in every walk of life and in every profession?"
Rebecca Ruiz, Mashable

If these new emoji are accepted by the Unicode Consortium, they will be released next summer. Emoji are a huge part of our modern lives, and they’re overdue for a modern update.

We know change is possible.

This week we put the spotlight on The New York Times Cities for Tomorrow, a conference that, after two years of Hall of Shame status, is currently in the Hall of Fame for 2016. Multiple conferences who started out in our Hall of Shame have since moved into Limbo (30-39% women), and we hope to see them become Hall of Famers next year.

All of these changes are important examples of actions to increase the visibility of women in the public dialog. In some cases, women have been left out and, in others, changing times required an update. No matter the circumstance, it is important to call it out. Change happens when we make change happen.

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