When artist Malika Favre designed the cover image for the recent issue of The New Yorker, she was hoping to capture a patient's feeling of vulnerability. But what Dr. Susan Pitt saw when she looked at that cover was strength. Now, she and other women around the world are recreating that image to celebrate diversity and the growing number of female surgeons in a traditionally male-dominated field.
Dr. Pitt, an endocrine surgeon at the Univeristy of Wisconsin, was on her way to an annual meeting of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons when she came across the New Yorker cover. At the conference, she asked three other women surgeons to help her replicate the image which she then shared on Twitter along with the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon.
Pitt sent out another asking other women in surgery to post their own. At the time, Pitt could not have predicted that her tweet would spark a movement, but that's exactly what it did.
"I hope to open people’s eyes and minds that women can be surgeons and anything else they want to be," she told BuzzFeed, adding that it feels like a “punch in the gut” when people assume women in hospitals are not the doctors.
Before long, female surgeons across the U.S. began accepting Pitt's challenge:
@susieQP8 @drkarenhorton @NewYorker @KickAsana @utswhpb @LoggheMD @heenastat @DrSabha @gianamontana @nganttmd @KPobgyndoc @DrKathyHughes @pferrada1 @drheatherfurnas @JFreischlag @Lady_Surgeon @scrubbedin Thanks for the challenge! pic.twitter.com/c7dj38vseJ— Heather Yeo MD (@heatheryeomd) April 6, 2017
The idea then spread around the world with women surgeons in Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Istanbul joining in.
Women make up only about 19 percent of surgeons in the U.S. according to the American Medical Association. Pitt is hoping change that and inspire the next generation to see what they can be.