The 2017 Nobel Prize winners were announced this week. If you’re interested in learning about the science behind the chemistry prize, I highly recommend this story and video about Cryo-EM and the winners of the 2017 Nobel in chemistry.
Beyond the science, though, something else really stands out…
— Benjamin Saunders (@BenSaunders) October 4, 2017
The Absurdity of the Nobel Prizes in Science – “They distort the nature of the scientific enterprise, rewrite its history, and overlook many of its most important contributors.”
Nobel Prizes Should Reward Science, Not Scientists – “The science Nobels (in medicine, physics, and chemistry) present an antiquated, sexist, racist, and thoroughly incorrect view of science.”
Where are the female Nobel Prize winners? – “Only 17 women have been awarded a Nobel prize in the three science categories since the awards’ inception in 1901. There have been no black science laureates. Of the 206 physics laureates recognised, two have been women – Marie Curie (1903) and Maria Goeppert Mayer (1963).”
Why don’t women win Nobel science prizes? – This story does a great job at tackling the notion that the Nobel is intended to be a Lifetime Achievement Award, something to be awarded on the basis of a body of research conducted over the entirety of one’s career; “This scarcity of women (and black and minority ethnic men, for that matter) is often put down to the time lag between work being carried out and being rewarded with the highest accolade in science. The awards, it is argued, reflect the make-up of academic institutions way-back-when.” It’s this lag time which many use to wave off any gender disparities. However, the original intent of the Nobel was to recognize recent research; not to mention, it’s 2017, and there have been many notable women involved in all fields of scientific endeavors for generations now.
Even if you subscribe to the idea that the Nobel is a Lifetime Achievement Award, there is a need to help develop the pipeline so that there are more women put into a position where they will be seriously considered for a Nobel prize in the future. However, we aren’t making much progress on this front, either – only one woman won an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award this week. The Pioneer Award isn’t intended to be a Lifetime Achievement Award. Indeed, many of the recipients are mid-career researchers. If we aren’t providing early- and mid-stage awards to women, how can we expect their research to flourish?
All around, it wasn’t a great week for #WomeninSTEM. But at least we’re talking about the problem a little more openly now?