Apple unveils new gender-neutral emojis

Whenever Apple makes an announcement, you can be pretty sure that it is going to be game changing, and its latest move is no exception.

According to InStyle, the tech giant recently announced that they will offer a host of new emojis to their already-expansive collection, including some new gender-neutral characters. The additions, which CNN says comes along with the iOS 11 update, includes “more expressive smiley faces, gender-neutral options, mythical creatures, clothing, food and animals,” while also adding more skin tones and country flags to their roster.

Additionally, InStyle reports that the update also includes new “empowered female emojis,” which take the form of “a female rock climber and a woman breastfeeding.”

With these changes to Apple’s emoji repertoire, hopefully there will come increased representation in the future.


Uber to donate $1.2M to Girls Who Code

Uber is finally getting a bit of good PR while also doing some serious good to encourage women and girls in STEM careers.

According to Glamour, the ride-sharing company is “moving forward with their multi-year partnership with Girls Who Code and giving the nonprofit a $1.2 million grant to help make their vision—closing tech’s gender gap—a reality.”

The move follows several reports of sexism and harassment within Uber, says Glamour, but with the company under new management after CEO Travis Kalanick was ousted and a March 2017 diversity report forcing them to double down on making a gender-inclusive workplace, Uber is taking steps in the right direction. Uber’s three-year endeavor to end the diversity gap in the tech world starts with Girls Who Code, reports Glamour, with Uber’s donation helping to “teach over 60,000 girls the skills they need to break into the tech world.”

Glamour also reports that Uber’s new chief brand officer Bozoma Saint John will also be joining the board of directors of Girls Who Code, marking another attempt to encourage girls in tech.

Small steps in the present will help make a bigger impact in the future! Good going, Uber.

Sephora seeks to inspire budding female entrepreneurs

Likely one of the most recognizable beauty retailers in the game, Sephora isn’t just the store of choice for many makeup buyers; it is also becoming a source of inspiration.

According to FashionistaSephora announced an expansion of their Sephora Accelerate program, which “offers support and mentorship to female entrepreneurs in the beauty space.” The additions to the program include an “open application process” for sustainability and technology fields in the world of beauty, says Fashionista, areas that are both relatively new in that market.

Beyond the new application process, which closed in January, the program is expanding  their Classes for Confidence series, reports Fashionista, which is “the retailer’s schedule of complimentary in-store classes designed to empower women facing major life transitions, such as unemployment or serious illness.”

With over 300 hours of mentorship logged in its first year, Fashionista reports that Sephora’s Head of Social Impact Corrie Conrad said she hopes the program not only keeps Sephora at the fore of the beauty industry, but also inspires women to create their own success stories.

“I think that our purpose of inspiring fearlessness and female empowerment has resonated so authentically,” Conrad told Fashionista. “If you look at our client base, the majority are women — it’s building off of our previous ongoing commitment to [gender] diversity in the workplace.”

Zendaya partners with ‘#WeNeedMore’ campaign

A career in engineering or technology is just as exciting as a career in Hollywood — that’s the message behind Zendaya’s new partnership with Verizon.

According to InStyle, the 20-year-old multi-hyphenate has teamed up with Verizon’s ‘#WeNeedMore’ campaign, which “encourages students to explore the many career possibilities that exist within STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.”

To help show students the kinds of careers possible, Zendaya brought a group of 13 and 14-year-olds to Capitol Studios to show how she records music, says InStyle, giving each of them a chance to sing with her and learn from audio engineer Joshua Florez how to edit and mix sound.

Inspired to participate in the project by her parents (who are teachers), Zendaya told InStyle that watching her mother push for educational technology in the classroom made her recognize the importance of those tools.

“I got to witness firsthand how much that can affect a young person, how much that can open their eyes to certain things that they may not even know exist at the time,” she explained.

And this program is no different, she told InStyle:

“It’s just kind of opening their eyes to other jobs, and other things that they can be involved in that maybe otherwise they wouldn’t even know exist, which I think is really cool…I’ve always been lucky that I’ve been able to have two parents that exposed me to that. But not every kid has that. Not every kid even has a teacher that’s going to go above and beyond to expose that to them. So that’s why programs like this are really important.”

Science research to improve rape investigation methods

One scientist is using grant funding to pursue research in rape investigation methods, all with the goal of improving current procedures.

According to Mic, Dr. Candice Bridge of the University of Central Florida received a grant from the National Institute of Justice received a $324,000 grant “to pursue alternatives to DNA testing using resources to which only the FBI and a handful of forensic labs have access.”

Allowing researchers to investigate and identify rape perpetrators when traditional DNA forms are not present, Bridge said in a press release that her research will be “an important line of research that has become even more important as rapists attempt to elude capture by covering their DNA tracks after an assault,” Mic reports.

Bridge will work alongside an 11-person team in order to examine the lubricants exchanged during an assault, says Mic, with additional research into how such fluids are broken down by the body funded by an additional grant from the University of Central Florida. Additionally, Mic reports that Bridge is “also working with the Orlando Public Defender’s Office to create an educational website for attorneys, helping them to understand what forensics can realistically do.”

Way to go, Dr. Bridge!


LiveSafe brings new safety measures to military

Sexual assault isn’t just an issue in the world at large; it also happens to be a major problem in military bases, with the Department of Defense reporting that there were over 6,000 reports of sexual assault in fiscal year 2015. But a new smartphone application may help bring new safety measures to the military — and help decrease sexual assaults.

According to Glamour, a free app called LiveSafe is in the midst of a six-month trial at two naval bases, one in Hampton Roads, Va. and one at the Rota Naval Base in Spain. Allowing members of the Navy to track their friends’ locations, the app can also help users “report anything suspicious they see, and access location-specific resources for crime victims, like legal and medical services,” says Glamour.

Currently in a testing phase, Glamour reports that focus groups will determine whether or not the app was effective in preventing or even addressing cases of sexual assault. With Glamour reporting that $150,000 has already gone into the app’s creation and testing, some in the military are already convinced that the app is valuable.

“When you think about what it costs to respond to one sexual assault — you think about providing medical services, doing the investigation, doing the legal processing, providing all the victim advocacy services, the amount of time the chain of command spends in reviewing and overseeing these cases and then executing the potential disciplinary action — that one case is significantly more than the cost for the pilot,” U.S. Fleet Forces Command sexual assault prevention and response officer Capt. Charles Marks told Tribune News Serviceaccording to Glamour.

Although there is no word yet on whether or not the app will be officially implemented, all signs seem to be pointing to the affirmative.

To read more about the app, click here.