The half-century omission of women physics awardees
Last week the 2014 Nobel Prizes were announced and once again recognized cultural and scientific advancements.
Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which have enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.
While the award is surely deserving it also continued a pattern difficult to overcome.
Slate.com noted that although no Nobel Prize has come close to being equitably distributed by gender, physics has a sad record with no women honored it in the past 50 years.
The Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded to women 47 times between 1901 and 2014. Only one woman, Marie Curie, has been honoured twice, with the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Gabriel Popkin polled prominent physicists, science journalists, and scientific society representatives to gather some women scientists that could have made the list or even won. Among them Northern Irish astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell and astronomer Vera Rubin.
As Popkin states, his list “is intended to show that the 51-year streak of male physics laureates cannot be blamed on a lack of viable female candidates.”