Surgery is women’s work

So, it’s 2015 and I still get asked if i’m sure I’m a surgeon! It probably doesn’t help that I am the first female general surgeon in my hospital but surely in this day & age people realise women can be surgeons?

Some of you may have noticed the Twitter campaign #ILookLikeaSurgeon over the last few days. This has led on from the very successful #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign started by Isis Wenger (@isisAnchalee) after her image, used as part of a recruiting campaign for engineers, sparked unexpected controversy. The reason for the controversy?…..she didn’t “look like an engineer” (too pretty, too sexy etc). I’m pretty sure that no man has ever been told that he is too handsome to do his job! These 2 hashtag campaigns are part of a larger movement  #ThisIsWhatWeLookLike – started by a philosopher and anaesthetist to change the way we think about women and work.

Those of us in surgery have been mistaken for nurses, physiotherapists, secretaries etc – all very admirable & important jobs but it would be nice if it didn’t come as such a surprise that we are surgeons, an issue highlighted by @rhiharries in a recent Guardian article. Comments such as “you don’t look like a surgeon”, “isn’t that a man’s job?” or (my personal favourite about a hernia repair) “are you sure you know how to do my operation?” are still fairly commonplace.

While we are by no means oppressed as women can be in other countries, there are still issues with the way our society views and treats professional women. It’s been amazing to see so many inspirational women pulling together & supporting this campaign & each other. I am so happy to be a part of this, promoting positive role models and changing perceptions of women in male-dominated professions.

I hope that this might encourage more women to join a career path that I love and feel privileged to do. Defy the stereotype & be part of the solution! #ILookLikeaSurgeon because I am a surgeon.

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