Facebook Puts Women Up Front with Icon Redesign

Josh WolfordSocial Media

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Facebook's friend icons have just received a redesign – and there's more to them than better haircuts.

Yes, both the male and female silhouettes have had their day at the stylist, but the more important change comes from a slight tweak in how the icons are positioned.

For the first time, the woman is now in front of the man.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 11.04.21 AM

Here's how Facebook Design Manager Caitlin Winner came up with the new friends icon:

I was moved to do something about the size and order of the female silhouette in the ‘friends icon’. As a woman, educated at a women’s college, it was hard not to read into the symbolism of the current icon; the woman was quite literally in the shadow of the man, she was not in a position to lean in.


My first idea was to draw a double silhouette, two people of equal sizes without a hard line indicating who was in front. Dozens of iterations later, I abandoned this approach after failing to make an icon that didn’t look like a two headed mythical beast. I placed the lady, slightly smaller, in front of the man.

According to Winner, this all came about after noticing that the iconic Facebook woman's iconliterally had a chip on her shoulder.

"The iconic man was symmetrical except for his spiked hairdo but the lady had a chip in her shoulder. After a little sleuthing I determined that the chip was positioned exactly where the man icon would be placed in front of her, as in the ‘friends’ icon, above. I assumed no ill intentions, just a lack of consideration but as a lady with two robust shoulders, the chip offended me."

Fixing that led to further investigation, and multiple redesigns putting the woman in a more equal position. The new groups icon also favors the woman (old on left):

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 11.02.25 AM

You should already see the changes on mobile.

A small, subtle nod to better gender equality. Hopefully it has some ripple effect through Facebook's hiring practices.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf