Despite the recent measures taken to promote gender equality, many visual depictions of women still support outdated stereotypes. A web search of words such as entrepreneur, leader and boss still generally gives us pictures of men. Results for the words nurse, teacher or carer usually involve pictures of women.

Visual language has the power to forge, strengthen and change our perception of the world. Symbols are among the best universal tools for overcoming language and cultural communication barriers, so it is paramount that they are socially aware when communicating.

Noun Project aims to gather and spread icons to simplify communication. But it’s not a mere database: the uploaded icons must comply with the quality and design standards established by the website.

Indeed, the project – which was started in 2011 – can count on the assistance of designers from over 120 countries, in order to create the largest and most diversified iconography collection ever. The project’s underlying concept is that representation is key for promoting equality: that is why, along with several renowned organisations, Noun Project launched the Iconathons, meaning creative marathons and collective design workshops that aim to develop and enhance visual language in the world, creating new icons for the general public.

But there is more: a few months ago, Noun Project launched The redefining women icon collection, e new collection consisting of more than 60 icons representing women working in the design industry, in technology and women that hold leading positions. The icons are available, free-of-charge, so as to rethink and modernise the icons we use when representing women and their professional skills.

Yance Ford once said, “We cannot be a better society until we see that better societyI cannot be in the world until I see that I am in the world”. He media we use and the social norms such media represent bias our system of values and, bottom line, the way we treat each other. Positive representations help us create connections, boost self-esteem and send a powerful message that can tell us about a person’s worth and value in society.

That is why Noun Project Photos was set up: a professionally organised database – created by a global community of photographers – of artistic quality photographs celebrating diversities. Even this collection, developed by Noun Project, was thought up looking through the lens of inclusion. Every single picture available has been carefully selected to celebrated the diverse world we live in, representing everyone in a more detailed way. Because representation is a fundamental part of equality.

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