Can You Solve the Surgeon Riddle?

Expectations help us quickly navigate our world. Yet they can also keep us from the simple solutions, talent, and opportunities that are right in front of us.


Johnson, Carolyn Y. (2016, October 14). The disturbing reason why we don’t believe young black women are really doctors. The Washington Post. Retrieved from:

Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M.J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(41), 16474-16479.

Wilmuth, C. & Banaji, M. R. [Revisiting the Surgeon Riddle]. Unpublished raw data.


Operating on Autopilot was created and developed by Mahzarin Banaji, Olivia Kang, and Evan Younger with funding from PwC and Harvard University.

Narration by Olivia Kang, featuring Professor Mahzarin Banaji (Harvard University) and excerpts from Radio Boston (courtesy of WBUR).

Sound Editing & Mixing by Evan Younger

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Artwork by Olivia Kang