In the 117-year history of the Nobel Prize, 667 men have been recognized for their work in the fields of physics, chemistry, and medicine. Conversely, just 19 women (one of them twice) have received a Nobel Prize in these categories, and only one woman has won the Nobel Prize in Economics in the category’s 49-year history.
This difference between male and female Nobel Laureates illustrates the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. One way to reduce this gap is to provide female role models for girls interested in STEM. The women who have won Nobel Prizes in STEM fields can serve as these role models.
1903 – Marie Curie won for her work in radioactive substances and her discovery of polonium and radium. She and her research partner and husband Pierre Curie shared half the award, while Antoine Henri Becquerel won the other half.
1963 – Maria Goeppert-Mayer was jointly awarded the prize with her research partner Hans Jensen for discovering the structure of nuclear shells. The other half of the prize went to Eugene Paul Wigner.
2018 – Donna Strickland was recognized for her work on high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses. She shared half the award with Gérard Mourou. Arthur Ashkin holds the other half.
1911 – Marie Curie won her second Nobel Prize for her continued work with radium. She was the sole recipient of the award.
1935 – Irène Joliot-Curie, the daughter of Nobel Laureates Marie Curie and Pierre Curie, won the Nobel Prize for the creation of the element phosphorus. She shared the award with her husband and research partner Frédéric Joliot.
1964 – Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin used X-rays to discover the molecular structures of penicillin and vitamin B12. She was the sole recipient of the award.
2009 – Ada E. Yonath was awarded the Nobel Prize for her pioneering research into the structure of ribosomes, which has allowed for the development of new antibiotics. She shared the award with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Seitz.
2018 – Frances H. Arnold won for her research into the directed evolution of enzymes. She received half of the award, while the other half went to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter.
Physiology or Medicine
1947 – The Nobel Prize went to Gerty Theresa Cori for her research into how glycogen is created and used by the human body. She received half of the award with her husband and research partner Carl Ferdinand Cori. The other half went to Bernardo Alberto Houssay.
1977 – Rosalyn Yalow won for developing the radio-immunoassay, which is useful for measuring hormone levels in blood. She won half the award, and Roger Guillemin and Andrew V. Schally shared the other half.
1983 – Barbara McClintock was the sole recipient of the award. Her research focused on the genetics of corn, illustrating that genetic elements sometimes move locations on chromosomes, which, in turn, affects neighboring genes.
1986 – Rita Levi-Montalcini won for investigating the division of cells and discovering growth factors that contribute to abnormalities. She shared the award with Stanley Cohen.
1988 – Biochemist Gertrude B. Elion developed new methods for creating medications. She shared the award with Sir James W. Black and her research partner George H. Hitchings.
1995 – Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard won for her research into the role of genetics in the development of embryos. She shared the award with Eric F. Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis.
2004 – Along with her research partner Richard Axel, Linda B. Buck won for investigating the role of genes in odor perception.
2008 – Françoise Barré-Sinoussi was recognized for discovering the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). She shared half the award with her research partner Luc Montagnier, while the other half went to Harald Zur Hausen.
2009 – The Nobel Prize was awarded jointly to Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Carol W. Greider. Their research focused on the role played by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase in the protection of chromosomes against degradation. They shared the award with Jack W. Szostak, a research partner to Blackburn.
2014 – May-Britt Moser was recognized for her discovery of cells near the brain’s hippocampus that determine the body’s position and are useful for navigation. She shared half the award with her husband and research partner Edvard I. Moser, and the other half went to John O’Keefe.
2015 – Chemist Youyou Tu won for discovering artemisinin, which has been used to create medications to treat malaria. She won half the award, while William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura shared the other half.
2009 – Elinor Ostrom’s research focused on challenging previous ideas that central authorities or privatization are needed for regulating the use of resources. She shared the award with Oliver E. Williamson.