After a year in which only one of the 13 Nobel laureates was female, a top official of the institution rejected the idea of awarding certain prizes, saying that the current system was “in line with the ultimate spirit of Alfred Nobel. Will.”
The Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Goran K. Hanson said in an interview with Agence France-Presse news agency on Monday that it was “sad” that there are so few Nobel Prize winners.
“It reflects unfair conditions in society, especially in previous years, but still exists and there is still a lot to be done,” Mr. Hanson said. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry as well as the Nobel Prize in Economics, officially known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel.
Since 1901, 943 individuals and 25 organizations have won the Nobel Prize and the Nobel Prize in Economics. There are only 58 women.
Philippine journalist Maria Russa was the only woman to be awarded this year’s Nobel, having won another Russian journalist Dmitry A. Shared the Peace Prize with Muratov. Together, they were recognized for “their courageous fight for freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”.
Sandy Robert, chief executive of the Association for Women in Science, said this year’s lack of women in science felt like a “huge step back”.
“The participation, leadership and recognition of women and minorities in science has increased over the past 50 years,” Ms. Robert said in a news release. “We encourage award committees to do more to identify underrepresented scientists and learn more about their work.”
One woman, Marie Curie, was awarded twice, winning the Nobel in Physics in 1903 and the Nobel in Chemistry in 1911.
Several women were honored last year. Emmanuel Charpentier and Jennifer A. for their work on the development of Crisp-Cas9, a method of genome editing. Doudna was jointly awarded the Nobel in Chemistry. The Nobel in Physics was shared by two men and one woman, Andrea Gage, for discoveries that have improved the understanding of the universe, including work on black holes. And the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to one of America’s most famous poets, Lewis Gluck.
Mr. Hanson said the quota on gender would not be applied because, “we are concerned that if someone makes an offer to us, one year we will only award women.” He continued, “Then it will, we fear, assume that those award winners got the award because they are women and not because they are the best.”
The number of women accredited recently has increased compared to previous years, Mr. Hanson said, adding that about 10 percent of natural science professors in Western Europe or North America are women, and in East Asia that figure decreases.
“We need a different approach to women going into science,” she said. “So that they have a chance to make these discoveries that are being honored.”
Susan Perkin, a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Oxford, said on Tuesday that having quotas for women or minorities is a “distraction” from the question of properly identifying everyone who contributes to science.
“I would say that the more important issue that we should really be looking at is who is making the decisions in the room and what is the makeup of the nominated community who are invited to feed into those decisions,” Professor Perkin said.
“Women now contribute very strongly and in most environments to the same scientific effort as men,” she said.
“It is the awarding process that probably needs to be updated in a way that better reflects the community of scientists pushing together to make those discoveries,” Professor Perkin said.