Sometimes an image takes on a life of its own.
In creating the April 3 New Yorker cover, French artist Malika
Favre was not riffing on gender bias in medicine.
The New Yorker wrote:
Favre told us that she designed the scene with the patient’s perspective in
mind. “I tried to capture that feeling of people watching you lose
consciousness,” she said. But, after the magazine was released, the cover
took on a life of its own when Susan Pitt, an endocrine surgeon at the
University of Wisconsin, issued a challenge to her fellow female surgeons:
to replicate the image in real life, bringing visibility to the women and
other minority groups working in a traditionally white, male-dominated
The challenge quickly spread as the twitter hashtag #NYerORCoverChallenge
was picked up by social media managers and health care practitioners and
The image and subsequent challenge have touched a nerve with female medical
professionals worldwide. Saudi Arabian physicians participated:
As did surgeons in Mexico:
Some tweets continued to shine a light on gender disparity in operating
rooms and surgical theaters:
Many tweets also carried the hashtag #Ilooklikeasurgeon to encourage people
of color and other diverse groups in surgery to join in.
Gender bias in medicine has been under a microscope for some years, and
this torrent of tweets shows that many women in the profession still feel
A Mayo Clinic study
showed that women are less likely to be introduced by their formal titles.
Others have written for
The Washington Post
about the bias they face daily as they go about their life-saving work.
Dr. Pitt, who started the challenge, spoke in an
interview with Buzzfeed
about the damage that bias can inflict upon workplace morale:
She said it feels like a “punch in the gut” when people automatically
assume women in hospitals or operating theatres must not be surgeons.
“I hope to open people’s eyes and minds that women can be surgeons and
anything else they want to be,” she said. “That there is no such thing as
‘a man’s world’.”
This campaign has been an ideal opportunity for social media managers and
other communicators to raise the visibility of their female surgical teams
and get significant coverage across multiple platforms.
The boost in the morale of hard-working physicians is palpable.
The New Yorker
Dr. Haneen Gomawi, of Saudi Arabia [...], told us, via Twitter, “We (lady
surgeons) face lots of challenges, in the surgical field & in life;
despite the difference in countries.” It felt “empowering, bonding &
reassuring” to participate in the challenge, she said, adding, “Sorry for
this very quick un-neat reply. I am currently on-duty for 24 hrs.”
Communicators, have you joined the #NYerORCoverChallenge? What kinds of
responses have you seen?