The second Iconathon in our three-city tour dedicated to creating more equal and accurate representations of women in iconography kicked off at 10:00am Saturday, March 23 in Los Angeles. Hosted at The Riveter’s West LA location, participants gathered to create new icons to better represent women in leadership positions.
The Iconathon began with a presentation from Noun Project Co-Founder and CEO Sofya Polyakov. Sofya set the stage for the day, providing an overview of key issues with visual resources that are currently available and the lack of diversity that’s presented.
Participants then heard from Shiza Shahid, Co-Founder of the Malala Fund and Founding General Partner at NOW Ventures. Shiza shared her perspective on the importance of investing in women and girls to support the next generation of female leaders, particularly through education and venture funding.
“There’s a place in the North of Pakistan that’s fairly remote called the Swat Valley that had been hardest hit by the violence and it had been essentially taken over for awhile by a terrorist group linked to the Taliban. This group declared an all out ban on girls education in Swat Valley in 2009.
At the time, I was a sophomore at Stanford and I remember sitting in my dorm room thinking, “Here I am getting this incredible education but 300 miles from my home town girls are being told they can’t go to school.”
“So, I decided I could perhaps be a bridge for those girls and their stories.” — Shiza Shahid
Award-winning product designer and digital strategist Christine Outram then shared an important look at why visual representation is critically important. She shared research that shows the negative effects of not seeing yourself represented visually in media and provided an overview of terms like “Symbolic Annihilation,” which describes the absence of, or active un-representation of, a cultural group.
Noun Project’s Design Director Geremy Mumenthaler walked participants through semiotics and symbolism, as well as best practices for icon design. He then took everyone through the icon design process they’d be using for the day to create new iconography for the Redefining Women collection.
Final icon sketches were displayed gallery-style on the walls so everyone could easily see the work that was created and vote for the concepts that best represented each referent.
After voting was complete, Noun Project’s Design Director had representatives from several groups share how they arrived at their final concepts.
Here are some of the many icons that were created during this Iconathon.
Thank you to everyone who participated! After our final Redefining Women Iconathon workshop in New York on April 20th, a selection of final icons created during the series will be vectorized and released as a full collection into the public domain, free for anyone to use.
This is just the first set in a series of Iconathons designed to support the creation of more equal and accurate representation in iconography. To stay up to date on future Iconathon initiatives, subscribe to our newsletter, the Noun Gazette.