Facebook has subtly changed its 'friends' icon to give the 'woman' silhouette more prominence.

The female character has been made larger, given a new hairstyle and is moved in front of the male character.

In a blog post on Medium, Facebook design manager Caitlin Winner explained how she'd noticed the inequality between the two figures when she first joined the company.

Winner explained that when looking at the company's stock of icons, she'd noticed "the lady had a chip in her shoulder" which was never visible because she was hidden behind the man.

I assumed no ill intentions, just a lack of consideration but as a lady with two robust shoulders, the chip offended me.

She then set about redesigning the icon, removing the "Darth Vader-like helmet" and gave it a "more shapely bob". She also drew a silhouette for "cases where a gendered icon was inappropriate".

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.

The changes were rolled out to employees at Facebook before being "shipped" to the rest of the world "without much fanfare".

"As a result of this project, I’m on high alert for symbolism." Winner concludes. "I try to question all icons, especially those that feel the most familiar."

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