City of Hope Female Surgeons Unite Around #ILookLikeASurgeon Campaign
May 31, 2017
| by City of Hope
The New Yorker’s recent Health, Medicine & the Body issue featured an iconic cover by French artist Malika Favre. The illustrated artwork, done in striking shades of blue and white, features four female surgeons looking down at an unseen patient on the operating table.
The piece was designed by Favre to “capture that feeling of people watching you lose consciousness,” but it’s since taken on a life of its own. Since the magazine was released, the cover has been replicated by hundreds of surgeons all over the world.
It all started when Susan Pitt, an endocrine surgeon at the University of Wisconsin, issued a challenge to her fellow female surgeons in an “effort to bring much-needed visibility to the women and other minority groups working in a traditionally white, male-dominated field.” The photos, Pitt says, are an example of “Women surgeons saying to other surgeons, ‘I see you,’ and to the world, ‘See us.’”
City of Hope’s Susanne Warner, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery, was inspired by the magazine cover and global response and organized the photo of her and her colleagues.
“When we saw this campaign on social media, we were excited to add our own picture to the fray,” Warner said. “We enjoy encouraging each other to defy stereotypes of what a surgeon looks and acts like. We have all survived and thrived in male-dominated arenas for a very long time and we all have examples of times when our skills have been doubted for superficial reasons related to our gender. We’ve all had that moment when people will ask us, ‘When will the doctor be coming in?’ or ‘Wait, are you going to be doing the surgery?’
"With this campaign, we hope to be role models for other aspiring young women who want to be surgeons and can be. As Marian Wright Edelman said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”