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#ILookLikeaSurgeon: Social Media Celebrates Women in Medicine

Across the world, female surgeons are replicating a photo to raise awareness of the diversity in the medical field. The photo was issued on the cover of The New Yorker back on April 3. Artist Malika Favre illustrated four female surgeons standing beneath a light and looking down on an operating table. Their faces are covered by surgical masks and they look ready to take on the important and difficult task of surgery.

The cover was titled Operating Theatre and it comes to life as an animation in The New Yorker website version, with the surgeons zeroing in on the operating table as the patient falls asleep. The cover was featured on the Health, Medicine, and the Body issue of the publication.

Favre’s inspiration for the piece came from a memory she had from when she was about five years old. She underwent an operation and remembered the feeling of drowsiness that so powerfully took over her body. She wanted to recreate that mysterious sense of drowsiness and loss of consciousness that people feel when on the operating table, she revealed to The New Yorker.

Soon after the magazine was released, the image had an effect nearly as powerful as that of the anesthetic. Susan Pitt, who is an endocrine surgeon at the University of Wisconsin according to The New Yorker, was moved by the image and its depiction of women in the operating room. As a result, she urged her fellow female surgeons to replicate the image in their own medical settings and to post the images to social media.

Pitt’s hope was to bring “visibility to the women and other minority groups working in a traditionally white, male-dominated field.”

Pitt’s request was met with positive responses almost immediately. Female surgeons across the world took up Pitt’s words as a photo challenge, and soon the social media world was flooded with images of female surgeons posing like the original animated cover coupled with the hashtag, #ILookLikeASurgeon.

The prominent Dr. Haneen Gomawi, who is a surgeon in Saudi Arabia, even partook in the photo challenge, posting a photo with some of her fellow female surgeons on Twitter. According to The New Yorker, Gomawi stated, “We (lady surgeons) face lots of challenges, in the surgical field & in life; despite the difference in countries.”

Despite the struggles that female surgeons and surgeons of all minorities face in a field dominated by white men, female surgeons took a stand over these past few weeks to show that they are proud of the hard work that they do.

Featured Image by Ilmicrofono Oggiono on Flickr
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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