Tweet by UW surgeon brings worldwide response

Photos replicates cover of New Yorker magazine

Four faces of women shielded by surgical masks, on the cover of a magazine have become the symbol of a movement.

The cover of the April 3 edition of New Yorker magazine had artwork depicting four women wearing surgical masks looking down on a patient, from that patient’s perspective.

Dr. Susan Pitt, a general surgeon with UW Health, saw that magazine cover.

“I think the moment I saw the cover, I was like, this is absolutely amazing,” Pitt said.

She decided to share the image on social media in a way that would engage the community. Together with three other female surgeons from UW Health, they replicated the magazine cover as a photograph.

“I thought it would sort of be something that I shared with my friends and you know, 10 or 15 people,” Pitt said.

Instead, within days, thousands of female surgeons from around the world answered the # ILookLikeASurgeon challenge. The tweets, with the photos of faces of female surgeons came in from as far away as Australia, and included surgeons from Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey and Ireland.

“Millions of people have seen this and it is really overwhelming, astounding and amazing,” Pitt said. “What I’ve loved is that what started as wanting to share a photo that was something I thought was cool became something that’s a movement.”

She says that even though the female surgeons are separated by many miles, they all are dealing with the same issues of gender equity.

“I think it sort of acknowledges a sisterhood that otherwise was silent. But at the same time showing the rest of the world that here we are, and things might seem somewhat equal but the absolutely are not. We make about 60 cents on the dollar, compared to the average male surgeon.”

UW Health is helping to address the issue of gender equity. More than half of the general surgeons on staff are women and they represent a significant portion of the leadership.

In all of the photos of female surgeons from around the world, Pitt sees the positive in a conversation that needs to take place.

“This is a lot of surgeons around the world saying, “I see you and we all have the same issues.”