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At Jingle Ball 2016, users coded their own emoji thanks to Google

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PHOTO: Josh Blanchard for Getty Images

PHOTO: Josh Blanchard for Getty Images

Before Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and Britney Spears hit the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2016 stage at L.A. Staples Center on Friday night, guests lined up in the pre-show Village to code emojis.

Google’s Made With Code pop-up featured computer stations where guests, including singer-actress Sabrina Carpenter, could create a self-portrait emoji that was then 3-D-printed into the foam of a cup of hot chocolate or Starbucks coffee. It’s the latest collaboration for the two-year-old initiative, started by Google’s Lauren Baum, which aims to inspire the next generation of women in computer science.

Made With Code has already received support from the entertainment community. Girls from the initiative have coded a scene from Pixar’s Inside Out and participated in a coding party with Chloe & Halle, plus an LED Zac Posen dress kicked off New York Fashion Week (as well as another LED dress worn by Lupita Nyong’o). Gina Rodriguez recently recognized women honored in a special Made With Code category at the Young Women’s Honors ceremony, and Priyanka Chopra introduced several of the Code girls before thousands at this year’s Global Citizen Festival in New York. Thanks to those coding, the screens at the event were lit up with positive messages of unity written (and coded) by the girls.

Baum tells Billboard that Made With Code is trying to actively change the problem of perception, which dictates that girls “don’t think they are going to be good at computer science” because they “don’t see people like them doing it.”

“Less than 1 percent of high school girls want to study computer science,” says Baum. “As more and more jobs, industries and careers are becoming fueled by technology, the critical female voice is being left out of it. It’s not just a problem for Google and Microsoft and tech companies. It’s a problem for fashion and film and business and everywhere.”

Users can currently code their own emojis on Made with Code’s website, but Baum says Android and Google are currently working to make such emoji creations reflective of the population available to consumers in the future.

“Right now the emojis are not diverse. For women, there’s nail polish and bride [emojis], not to mention the limited skin tones,” says Baum. “We wanted a way for girls to be able to code themselves or what they want to see — both in terms of the way they look, but also representative of their careers and the things they love.”

Made With Code is aiming for increased music and entertainment partnerships in the future, hoping to let young teenagers know that they can change the way they listen, interact or create music with code. Adds Baum, “You can study computer science and create a new app for health care, change the face of fashion or even music.”


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