One Lady Gained a Nobel This 12 months. Quotas Aren’t the Reply, an Official Says.


After a yr through which just one out of 13 Nobel laureates was a girl, a prime official on the establishment that awards among the prizes dismissed the thought of gender quotas, saying the present system was consistent with “the spirit of Alfred Nobel’s final will.”

Goran Okay. Hansson, the secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, mentioned on Monday in an interview with the Agence France-Presse information company that it was “unhappy” that so few Nobel laureates have been girls.

“It displays on the unfair situations in society, notably in years previous, however nonetheless present and there’s a lot extra to do,” Mr. Hansson mentioned. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry, in addition to the Nobel in economics, recognized formally because the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Financial Sciences in Reminiscence of Alfred Nobel.

Since 1901, 943 people and 25 organizations have received Nobel Prizes and the Nobel in economics. Solely 58 have been girls.

The journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines was the one girl to be awarded a Nobel this yr, sharing the Peace Prize with one other journalist, Dmitri A. Muratov of Russia. Collectively, they had been acknowledged for “their brave combat for freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

The shortage of ladies awarded within the sciences this yr felt like a “large step backward,” mentioned Sandy Robert, the chief government of the Affiliation for Ladies in Science.

“The participation, management, and recognition of ladies and minorities in science has grown during the last 50 years,” Ms. Robert mentioned in a information launch. “We encourage award committees to make extra of an effort to determine underrepresented scientists and find out about their work.”

One girl, Marie Curie, was honored twice, successful the Nobel in Physics in 1903 and the Nobel in Chemistry in 1911.

Final yr, a number of girls had been honored. The Nobel in Chemistry was collectively awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for his or her work on the event of Crispr-Cas9, a way for genome enhancing. The Nobel in Physics was shared by two males and a girl, Andrea Ghez, for discoveries which have improved understanding of the universe, together with work on black holes. And the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Louise Glück, considered one of America’s most celebrated poets.

Mr. Hansson mentioned quotas on gender wouldn’t be applied as a result of, “We fear that if anyone proposed to us, one yr we’d give the prize solely to girls.” He continued, “Then it will be, we worry, thought of that these laureates bought the prize as a result of they’re girls and never as a result of they’re the very best.”

The variety of girls acknowledged just lately has risen in contrast with earlier years, Mr. Hansson mentioned, including that about 10 % of the professors in pure sciences in Western Europe or North America are girls and that that determine decreases in East Asia.

“We’d like totally different attitudes to girls going into sciences,” he mentioned. “In order that they get an opportunity to make these discoveries which might be being awarded.”

Susan Perkin, a professor of bodily chemistry on the College of Oxford, mentioned on Tuesday that having a quota for girls or minorities was a “distraction” from the query of correctly recognizing everybody who contributes to the sciences.

“I might say that the way more essential situation that we must always actually be taking a look at is who’s within the room making these choices and what’s the make-up of the nominating group who’re invited to feed into these choices,” Professor Perkin mentioned.

“Ladies contribute now very strongly and in most environments equally to males in scientific endeavors,” she mentioned.

“It’s the method of awarding prizing that maybe must get up to date in a approach that displays higher the group of scientists who’re pushing collectively to make these discoveries,” Professor Perkin mentioned.

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