The Nobel Prize Gender Gap

Over a century has passed since Nobel Prize had been established. Many distinguished individuals have been recognized for their great achievements, innovations and breakthrough in a field of science, medicine, technology, literature and peace. According to the Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize [1] there have been 555 recipients of Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences (1901-2012). Only 43 of those individuals or 7.7 % were women.

This chart (Figure 1) illustrates all Nobel Prize winners broken down by category and ranked by gender (1901-2011). [2]

 

In her 2001 book ‘Nobel Prize Women in Science. Their Lives, Struggles and Momentous Discoveries' Sharon Bertsch McGrayne explores the reason for astonishing gender disparity by examining the lives and achievements of women scientists who either won Nobel prize or played a crucial role in Nobel-prize winning project. [3] Even when women have contributed to work that led to Nobel prizes they were very often written out of the story, as in the now well-known case of Rosalind Franklin. Her work on the double helix shape of DNA was not recognized when the Nobel Prize for that discovery was awarded to James Watson and Francis Crick. A similar story could be told of Jocelyn Bell (now Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell) and the discovery of pulsars, and of Lise Meitner in the history of nuclear fission. [4] Many women-scientists faced enormous obstacles. They were confined to basement laboratories and attic offices. They crawled behind furniture to attend science lectures. They worked in Universities for decades without pay as volunteers as late as 1950s. [3]

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Stats are OK but analysis shou...

Thanks for the article. Excellent summary. I think part of the problem could be the NOMINATION process. Who is nominating? are t... Read More
Monday, 10 February 2014 03:31
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