What do you think a surgeon looks like? These women are hoping to change that

There’s a cringe-worthy “riddle’’ in the cultural lexicon you might remember from an episode of All in the Family:

“There’s this father and his son, and they’re driving in a car. The car crashes, and the father is killed, and the little boy is badly injured. They take him to the operating room, where the surgeon walks in and says: ‘I can’t operate on this boy, he’s my son!’ How come?’’

No one can figure it out until Edith finally says “It’s not because the surgeon was the boy’s father. The surgeon was the boy’s mother!’’


Dr. Heather Logghe, a surgery resident in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was watching the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag blow up on social media when she decided it was time for female surgeons to make their voices, and faces, known.

“It is hard to find role models that remind you of yourself as a woman in surgery. It’s been so traditionally male, and unfortunately so many of the female role models have had to conform to the male stereotypes to survive,’’ Logghe said in an interview with TODAY.

She tweeted a picture of herself and her daughter with the #ILookLikeASurgeon hashtag, and soon Twitter was blowing up with responses. To date, there are 11,075 tweets and 28,907,277 impressions for the #ILookLikeASurgeon hashtag.

Dr. Chris Porter wrote on the topic in Logghe’s blog “Allies for Health’’:

“I’ve long felt surgeon culture needed some shaking up. (Facilitating cultural change was an original goal of OnSurg.) May our new workplace culture recognize this: surgical practice was designed around men with few parenting obligations. That breed of surgeon is a rapidly-shrinking demographic. The growing demographic is female surgeons and new-age dads – people who parent.’’

Very few women are leaders in the industry, and 32 percent of physicians and surgeons in the United States are women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Boston Globe reported in 2013 that while gender equality is improving in the industry, there are still gender biasesthat prevent women from advancing in the field.


Check out the faces of female surgeons around Boston posting pictures in support:

Correction: Dr. Chris Porter wrote the passage cited from Dr. Heather Logghe’s “Allies for Health’’ blog. It was previously attributed to Logghe.

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