Friday, October 09, 2009

lady laureates

It's only been a few hours since the Nobel Prize committee gave the world something to talk about with its rather surprising choice of Barack Obama as the recipient of 2009's Nobel Prize for peace. Lost in the commotion are some impressive historical facts: More Nobel Prizes were given to women this year than in any year before, and it was the first time a woman received a prize in the category of either chemistry or physics in 45 years. Congratulations to Elizabeth Blackburn (Physiology or Medicine); Carol Greider (Physiology or Medicine); Ada Yonath (Chemistry); and Herta Müller (Literature), who are pictured clockwise from top left.

Sadly, of course, women trail men by far as recipients of Nobel Prizes. As of today, the ratio of awards won by men to those won by women is a dismal 762 to 40. And there has yet to be a female recipient of the award for economics. But hopefully the 2009 showing is a harbinger of a sea change in that respect. For some perspective, I've put together this chart showing all prizes that have gone to women thus far (click to see full-size version). &infin

Update: Well, I guess I should have waited to post this until today's economics prize announcement, because ladies and gentlemen, we now have our first-ever female winner in the category of Economic Sciences! Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University (pictured at right) shares the 2009 prize with another American, Oliver Williamson for their "analysis of economic governance." That brings the total prize tally for women to five in 2009 and 41 overall. Way to go! I've updated the chart below.


  1. Anonymous3:50 PM

    Terrific chart! I've been thinking about female laureates this week, too. It's a good week for women, but really highlights the long road, too.

  2. Well, they heard you. A female laureate for Economics it is. Keep it up!

  3. Time to add a logo for econ! She's also an environmental economist, I might add :)

  4. What a great illustration. The numbers especially since Title IX speak volumnes.


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