Thursday, July 9, 2015

Facebook – Progress in the Gender Hierarchy

Little changes can mean a lot, particularly considering how many people look at Facebook images and take them in, consciously or unconsciously, people young and old. We are taught hierarchies in subtle ways, including the culture biases that have contributed to gender inequality for pay, corporate leadership, and representation in fields such as technology.

Facebook images of individuals or groups have historically taught us that men are important up front and center, and women are to be helpers or in the background. Now that will be changed. In the new "friends" icon, the female avatar is now placed in front of the male icon, instead of being behind him with part of her body cut off. She has a stronger posture. Hairstyles have been updated for both genders, particularly removing her "Darth Vader-like helmet."

As in any hierarchy, the people on the top are supposed to represent everyone, like accepting that the term "man" means both genders, and "actor" means both genders. If we show an image of a man, we are supposed to accept that we are including everyone, but, in reality, we are learning who is important and who is not. It doesn't work both ways, as if we say "woman" or "actress," we know we are only talking about females.