Women Are Winning More Scientific Prizes But Lesser Prestige Than Men

Women Winning Scientific Prizes

Women everywhere in the world still remain underrepresented in the STEM field of Science, Technology, engineering, and mathematics. We have come a long way and have left indelible marks in the hearts of the people but the appreciation gathered by them in the world of science and innovations is short-lived. Are we putting in great efforts to appreciate and recognise the contribution of women in this field?

Donna Strickland won one of the 2018 Nobel prizes in physics, a major accomplishment for any scientist in the world. But what made it special is she is only the third female physicist to receive the award after Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert Mayer 60 years later. When Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize for her research on economic governance in 2009, it was the first (and so far, the only) time a woman won a Nobel for economics. That prize has existed for nearly 50 years. Only two women have won the Nobel for physics in the nearly 100 years it has been conferred. The most prestigious prize in mathematics, the Fields Medal, has had just one female winner: the late Maryam Mirzakhani.

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A study found that while women are indeed winning more prizes, they still lag significantly on prize quality. When it comes to prize money in science, women take home less cash and less respect than men.

The disparity in prize money may affect a female scientist’s motivation to stay in the field of science and technology and further help in contributing exceptionally in it. Biomedical awards from the big ones like Nobel prize to breakthrough prize and lesser-known awards indeed reveal a gender imbalance. Women are catching up in numbers in term of quality of the prize, but the monetary value or prestige associated with the prize still carries a big problem.

Female prize winners earned an average of about 64 cents for every dollar won by men. Of the top 50% of all prizes by prestige, women won only 11% of the awards across our period of study. Also, forthcoming research suggests that in every aspect the quality or value of women-led research is not lower than that of men, as measured by citations per article, productivity, or breadth of research topics studied.

Women’s scientific contribution in this world is under-recognized in terms of quality. A lot still needs to be done to bring their exceptional contribution in this field into the limelight.

Sonakshi Goel is an intern with SheThePeople.TV