The gulf not so “Nobel”: women represent a tiny part of the laureates, a little helping hand in recent years

In 77 years out of a total of 118 years that the Nobel Prize was awarded, not a single woman has received the coveted honor.

Literature and Peace saw the maximum number of female Nobel laureates with 16 and 18 female laureates. (Photo: Associated press)

One in 13 is how skewed the Nobel Prizes are in 2021 on the gender scale. The only winning woman is Maria Ressa from the Philippines, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Dmitry Muratov of Russia for their efforts to promote freedom of expression.

This isn’t the only year with such a gender gap among the winners. In fact, it has always been so since the award was created in 1901. In 77 years out of a total of 118 years that the Nobel Prize was awarded, no woman has received the coveted honor. The latest years include 2017, 2016, 2012, and 2010. The Noble Prize Committee suspended the ceremony between 1940 and 1942 due to World War II.

The data reveals that of the total 975 laureates to date, there are only 59 or 6.1% female laureates (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/lists/nobel-prize-awarded- women /). Over the past 20 years, however, the number of female award winners has increased slightly. However, there is still a long way to go when it comes to gender parity. From 2000 to 2021, only 29 or 10.8% of Nobel Prize winners were women. From 1901 to 1999, a paltry 30 or 4.2 percent of women received this honor.

Looking at the data by subject, the economy has the fewest female winners, followed by physics and chemistry. In economics, which was shortlisted in 1969 for the Nobel Prize, only two or 2.2 percent were women compared to 87 men who received the prize. The two women are Esther Duflo, who won the award in 2019 jointly with Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer for their experimental approach to global poverty reduction; and Elinor Ostrom, winner in 2009 for her analysis of economic governance focused on the management of commons (finite common resources within a community).

Likewise, in Physics, 4 or 1.8% of women against 215 men; and in chemistry, 7 or 3.7 percent of women received this prestigious honor.

On the other hand, Literature and Peace had the maximum number of female laureates with 16 and 18 female laureates. Interestingly, in 2009 five women and eight men received the award. This was the maximum number of winning women in a year. Marie Curie is the only woman to have won the Nobel Prize twice. She won for physics in 1903 and for chemistry in 2011.

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