Why Women Surgeons Around The World Are Recreating This Magazine Cover

This is what a surgeon looks like.
Surgeon Susan Pitt's photo vs. a recent New Yorker cover.
Surgeon Susan Pitt's photo vs. a recent New Yorker cover.

Female surgeons across the world are tweeting photos of themselves, all thanks to a recent New Yorker magazine cover. 

The magazine’s April 3rd edition edition features an illustration on its cover by artist Malike Favre. The image is of four female surgeons in full gowns and masks, peering over an operating table.

Dr. Susan Pitt, an endocrine surgeon at the University of Wisconsin, noticed the cover and had a great idea.

“The instant I saw it I thought about how cool it would be to replicate in real life,” Pitt told BuzzFeed.

The cover came out right before Pitt went to an annual American Association of Endocrine Surgeons meeting. Once she got to the conference, Pitt rounded up three other surgeons and recreated the New Yorker cover. 

On April 4, Pitt tweeted out the magazine cover side-by-side with her reenactment, using the the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon. 

“I hope to open people’s eyes and minds that women can be surgeons and anything else they want to be. That there is no such thing as a ‘a man’s world,’” Pitt told BuzzFeed, adding that it feels like a “punch in the gut” when people assume women in hospitals are everything but surgeons. 

After tweeting her own photo, Pitt challenged other surgeons on Twitter to recreate the cover. 

Surgery is a male-dominated field with women making up only 19 percent of all surgeons in the U.S., according to the American Medical Association.

Many female surgeons have written about the everyday sexism they face at work. Surgeon and HuffPost contributor Niamey Wilson explained in a 2015 blog that she’s constantly mistaken for an aide or nurse.

“A woman in scrubs walking through the hospital hallways rarely gets recognized as a doctor, and almost never as a surgeon. I am most often confused for a nurse, amongst other professions,” she wrote. “On the other hand, male medical students need only don scrubs, and — BAM — they look like surgeons.” 

Pitt’s challenge quickly caught on, with female surgeons recreating the New Yorker cover in their own surgical gowns and masks, and tweeting them out.

Surgeons across the country, from the University of Wisconsin and Penn State University, to residents at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Texas, shared their reenactments of the New Yorker cover. There were even some international submissions, from Mexico and Brazil.

Head over to Twitter to see more tweets from the #ILookLikeASurgeon challenge.