Meet the female surgeons who are calling for a change in medical culture.
#ILookLikeASurgeon is making a big difference in the medical community.
For the past two months, surgeons from across the globe have been tweeting under the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon.
They're calling out unequal treatment in the workplace, offering support for one another, and showing the world what a diverse operating room could look like.
The viral movement was founded by Dr. Heather Logghe.
The general surgery resident at the University of North Carolina Health Care tweeted the hashtag after watching Twitter users challenge engineering stereotypes through #ILookLikeAnEngineer.
“It is hard to find role models that remind you of yourself as a woman in surgery," Logghe told Today. “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."
Unfortunately, Logghe's thoughts about the lack of female power in the operating room aren't unusual.
Despite earning advanced degrees and entering the workforce at rates comparable to (and sometimes exceeding) men, women still face gender-based challenges in their careers. Female surgeons know that as well as anyone because women make up only one-third of surgery programs in the U.S.
After Logghe tweeted her thoughts at #ILookLikeASurgeon, she realized that other female surgeons experienced challenges in the operating room just like she did.
One of the most common experiences that these surgeons referenced? Colleagues and patients often assume that female surgeons are nurses.
One female surgeon suggested using this standard reply:
#ILookLikeASurgeon When I get asked 'R u a nurse' I say No, I'm a surgeon,but thanks for the compliment. pic.twitter.com/UXex8T0lwQ
— SanzianaRomanSurgery (@SanzianaR) August 8, 2015
The hashtag has also provided female surgeons with the opportunity to "meet" female surgeon role models.
One Twitter user pointed out that this is especially important for a field where where most professional mentors are still male.
Thanks to #ILookLikeASurgeon campaign I "met"so many role models.I'm grateful to have the chance to be in contact with so many good doctors.
— Ginevra Cavalieri (@CaGinevra) September 4, 2015
As the hashtag blew up, surgeons of other minority groups joined the call for a culture change, too.
Surgeons told stories of uncomfortable work environments for people of color and surgeons with disabilities. They also discussed the challenges of balancing work and life with family, something that resonated not only with surgeons, but with male and female doctors in other fields and med students as well.
“I've heard from many men who want the [medical] workplace culture to change so they can lead fuller lives and be fully present parents," Logghe told Upworthy.
The coolest part of #ILookLikeASurgeon? It's actually changing things in the medical community.
Medical journals and organizations have now expressed their support of diversity in the operating room, and #ILookLikeASurgeon is expected to be a major theme in the upcoming Association of Women Surgeons conference, too.
Cheers to you, Dr. Heather Logghe!