Lean In…All the way to the front

Feminist facebook icon

From Adweek, the story of a symbolic tweak by Facebook’s product design manager Caitlin Winner. Apparently, the aptly-named Winner was thinking about the icons used on the FB site to denote friends or groups: they always put a man in front of a woman, so the woman was always in a man’s shadow.

Now, this is the company whose Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote the book Lean In, which encouraged women to lead. And yet, that pesky women-to-the-back-of-the-pack symbol persisted. Until now. (She even fixed the female icon’s helmet hair – brava!)

What do you think – is this a silly little detail, or the kind of subliminal imagery that affects the beliefs both genders have about women?




7 thoughts on “Lean In…All the way to the front

  1. shirinirani123

    Great share! This detail is definitely not silly. There’s meaning behind this subliminal change, which I think is great to show users that Facebook is user friendly and a supporter of equality! As the article says, symbols matter and this change indicates that Facebook is updating its user-friendliness by promoting diversity in gender and appearance. It is a minor detail but certainly not a silly one!

  2. Hinal Patel

    I strongly agree that these small adjustments Facebook made are not silly. Although they are just symbolic changes rather than new features or offerings available on the social media platform, I believe it creates a better representation of the company’s core values and beliefs. For example, by creating these new images, they are supporting the importance of equality and focusing on consumers’ complaints. Another article that I read recently discussed how the standard icon profile picture for males was larger than the standard icon profile picture for females. However, along with these changes the icon sizing was also adjusted to be the same. By creating these changes, I believe individuals will be able to better associate with the brand and also understand their core values.

  3. Eric Gin

    Although it is only a simple symbol change, I think that Facebook’s initiative to take action and modify the brand’s symbol speaks volumes as to it’s views on equality and gender diversity. People are becoming more aware of these issues and are seeking change. Getting Facebook on board is a huge win towards gender equality.

    Furthermore, given Facebook’s role as a platform to drive change (ex: the Egypt uprising) the visibility of such an action is high and is a great way to generate positive views for a company that has come under scrutiny in the past with issues such as user privacy.

  4. Ali Waqaas

    Symbols definitely have a strong effect on how people perceive a brand. I personally did not pay attention to the logo up until now and the imagery itself shows how we as a society are ingrained to believe that women are supposed to be below and/or behind men. I definitely think this is a good step towards promoting gender equality even if it might only be symbolic. Although I feel that most people who are care about gender equality will pay more attention to the tangible actions such as equal hiring practices, women in leadership roles etc of Facebook, rather than just being convinced by a change in logo.

  5. Thivya S

    I actually heard about this a week or two ago. Although at first glance it may seem like its a small change, its the perfect change to make a statement. I really am impressed that Facebook, the multi-billion dollar company representing a social media website that is encouraged to make change, made a difference like this. Its something we dont really notice at first glance but when you do you wonder why they would make the icon a male dominated image. I appreciate this change because Facebook didn’t have to do this to save their company and it puts out the whole “be the change” efforts in full effect.

  6. ellenbasler

    What do you think – is this a silly little detail, or the kind of subliminal imagery that affects the beliefs both genders have about women?

    I do think that symbolism has a very powerful affect on messages and that subliminal imagery can subtly affect how we see gender. I had never even noticed this small detail before this article was brought it up. However, I do not think putting the female in the front truly solves or makes a statement about anything. Things like this seem to be trying to turn it from being a male dominated society to a female dominated society and I think we should just be striving for equality. I don’t understand why it made sense to put the man in the “shadow” after she was upset about the woman being there. The “group of friends” should be on an equal playing field if they are concerned about gender beliefs. I understand where this is coming from and I appreciate that Winner is trying to break down barriers in symbolism. It is a minor change but one that starts a conversation about gender equality in symbolism which I welcome.

  7. Amy Lu

    I dont think it really matters to gender. Not so many people pay attention to details. How about many friends hands in hands in a circle. In this way, there is no order and priorities. Everything looks harmony and warm


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