By Wendy Widom
CHICAGO (CBS) — In a playful yet pointed example of life imitating art, Chicago surgeon Jessica Shepherd and other female physicians from around the world are recreating a magazine cover that depicts a surgical team of four women in an operating room.
On the April 3, 2017 cover of the New Yorker magazine, French artist Malika Favre’s illustrates a circle of women peering into the face of a patient. An animated version shows an eye opening and closing. Favre tells the New Yorker, “I tried to capture that feeling of people watching you lose consciousness.”
Jessica Shepherd, Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at the University of Illinois Chicago, heard about the cover while working with three female surgeons. “It’s such a powerful symbol of women’s empowerment,” she says. “The cover is a symbol of what we aspire to, and what our daughters can be.”
Shepherd and her colleagues took a photo of themselves in a circle that mirrored Favre’s illustration and Shepherd shared it on Instagram. “Well well well, if it isn’t the day after #equalpayday and four fantastic female surgeons are in the #operatingroom. We are dedicated to helping save lives and improving the #pelvichealth of women. The brilliant @newyorkermag cover by @malikafavre gave us the idea to show the world that #genderpaygap is not acceptable and we will continue to voice our support to improve wages for women!” she wrote.
Well well well, if it isn't the day after #equalpayday and four fantastic female surgeons are in the #operatingroom. We are dedicated to helping save lives and improving the #pelvichealth of women. The brilliant @newyorkermag cover by @malikafavre gave us the idea to show the world that #genderpaygap is not acceptable and we will continue to voice our support to improve wages for women! 💪🏼💪🏽💪🏻💪🏾so even though #EqualPayDay might be over, continue to speak up on #GenderPayGap which continues to hold working women back. #womensurgeons #womeninmedicine #genderequality #genderpaygap #ilooklikeasurgeon #womensmarch #womenempowerment #womenshealth #gynecology #gynecologyoncology #pelviccancer #cervicalcancer #laparoscopicsurgery #pelvicmafia #pelvichealth #jessicashepherdmd #nyerorcoverchallenge
Surgeon Susan Pitt from Madison, WI, also took notice of the cover and tweeted: “@NewYorker @TheAAES @WomenSurgeons @womeninsurgery @LoggheMD @KickAsana #ILookLikeASurgeon #AAES2017.” Pitt challenged others to snap a photo and include the hashtag #NYerORCoverChallenge.
Since then dozens of doctors and medical centers have shared similar photos on social media.
According to the AAMC Physician Specialty Handbook, in 2010 only 15 percent of physicians practicing general surgery were women (4,041) compared to 84.6 percent of men (22,255).
Shepherd is hopeful this disparity will eventually disappear. “Women are amazing surgeons,” she says. “Women have a special ability to connect” with patients.