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I Look Like A Surgeon: Australian Doctor Joins Global Female Movement

I Look Like A Surgeon: Why Patients Assume Her Male Junior Is In Charge
Courtesy Dr Nikki Stamp

When cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp walks into a patient’s room in Sydney hospitals, they often think she’s the nurse.

“It happens almost every day,” Stamp told The Huffington Post Australia.

“I’ll be with a junior male registrar student who is a short, slightly bald guy and they’ll always think he’s the one in charge.

“Some days it’s funny but other days, it’s hard to laugh.”

Stamp is one of the many women around the world on social media proudly proclaiming #ILookLikeASurgeon.

She said the movement was about providing visible role models for women in the male-dominated industry that has been plagued by accounts of sexual harassment and bullying.

“When I was a student, there weren’t any female surgeon role models but I was lucky enough to be mentored by two brilliant, emotionally intelligent men who had a clue,” Stamp said.

“They gave me advice about what I’d come up against like sexual harassment, bullying and even making family relations work.

“Their advice to me was to have self belief and to do your job better than the men.

“It sounds like a harsh reality -- to have to do a better job than anyone else -- but when people have preconceived notions that your gender will negatively impact your ability to do your job, they’ll be waiting for you to fail. So you can’t.”

Now, Stamp -- who would rather not disclose her age, lest she be judged for being female and 'too young to be a surgeon' -- is a mentor to several female students through the University of Western Australia and said the more visible supporters of #ILookLikeASurgeon, the better.

“Everyone is coming together and sharing their stories in such an inclusive and fun way,” Stamp said.

And it’s not social media just lip service, change makers are listening.

“One of the things that came out of this discussion was the fact that surgeon’s gloves don’t fit a lot of women’s hands,” Stamp said.

“It’s one of those things where each person probably thought they were the only one with the problem until [the hashtag] brought them together.”

Glove maker Ansell jumped on the hashtag on Twitter to say their innovation team was hearing the concerns.

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