Posted by: maryssarotte | October 11, 2012

Nobel Prizes

In a recent BBC article the statistics of Nobel Prize winners was collected and put into a frequency chart to try and reveal a “formula” for prize winners. The link is here:

Of course it is general knowledge that the majority of winners are men and later in their lives. Physics, Literature and Economics only have 1% of their total winners as women. The Nobel Peace Prize has the largest female winners with 15% which is still low. But the upside to this number is that the Peace category is generally dominated by political leaders, social movement leaders, and other leaders that make it their vision to improve the lives of others. So does it surprise us that women are more dominate in this category? Or should we still be skeptical because of the “barriers” women see as leaders? Do we feel that when women lead with such force a real change happens more often than a man does? Do these numbers insinuate that?

Some of the most recent women to be award a Nobel Peace Prize are:

Ellen Sirleaf- Women’s rights/Peace Movement
Leymad Gbowee- Women’s rights/Peace Movement
Tawakkol Karman- Women’s rights/Peace Movement
Wangari Maathai- Humanitarian work
Shirin Edabi- Human rights


  1. I’m not really all that surprised that women are more dominant in the peace category than in any other category. This plays into the stereotypes that women deal with more feminine issues while men deal with more mathematical and science-related issues. The most recent women winners received the reward for women’s rights and humanitarian issues after all. It is rare to see a women acknowledged for her contributions to science and math and I think this has to do with these barriers. People are used to seeing women working for humanitarian issues and what is seen as “feminine” issues, but they are not used to seeing women in the mathematical and scientific fields. The results from this article may have positive implications for women leaders working on humanitarian and peace issues, but what about the implication for women who work in the other categories? It’s great that we see women being recognized for their achievements in the peace category, but what about math and science and literature? If women were recognized more in the other categories, in addition to the peace category, then maybe they would be able to break some of the barriers to leadership, most notably the idea that women can only deal with feminine issues and men masculine issues.

  2. As a female attempting to pursue a career in the STEM fields, I find this incredibly interesting. I’ve been looking at some articles via google to see what others have to say and I chose this one to share:

    Basically it says that the issue lies with the individual and not with the subject. Women aren’t biased against a topic, in fact they often perform better than men do in STEM subjects. The study discussed in this article makes the claim that women are biased against themselves. It says that it depends on if that woman has a female role model to look up to or not. The sex of their professor also affects women as they often do better on tests when the professor is a woman vs. a man; it’s not because women make easier tests, but because the student believes that doing well is a more attainable goal on a woman’s test.

    Thinking back to my experiences, I have had women role models throughout my entire career in math. From my high school algebra teacher to my boss at my summer internship to my professors here at CNU, I have had quite a few females to look up to along the way. And to be honest, if it wasn’t for them, I would not be a math major now. It’s kind of funny to think about these things from a different perspective.

    Anyways, I believe that what really needs to happen is that women need to have role models in the STEM fields. While many do currently exist, more are needed.

  3. I agree with both of you, but the way I saw it was that the area that women dominated is a category for leaders than achievements. The peace category also does not have a bias towards higher education or academic needs. It focuses solely on the affect their leadership has had to enact change, peace and equality. Where the science, math, literature etc categories have a requirement to have made or proven themselves in an academic area; this also doesn’t require any collaboration or movement. The peace category is based upon the leader follower relationship and is based upon the change in other lives based upon these leaders actions. So my question was more, are we surprised that women are dominated in a category that is judged by leadership? Does this tell us something about women leaders on an international level?

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