Thursday, November 18, 2021

Crosspost: None of the 2021 science Nobel laureates are women – here’s why men still dominate STEM award winning

Written By Mary K. Feeney for The Conversation

Dr. Donna Strickland, winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics, glances over her shoulder before entering her laboratory at the University of Waterloo.

All of the 2021 Nobel Prizes in science were awarded to men.

That’s a return to business as usual after a couple of good years for female laureates. In 2020, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna won the chemistry prize for their work on the CRISPR gene editing system, and Andrea Ghez shared in the physics prize for her discovery of a supermassive black hole.

2019 was another year of all male laureates, after biochemical engineer Frances Arnold won in 2018 for chemistry and Donna Strickland received the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics.

Strickland and Ghez were only the third and fourth female physicists to get a Nobel, following Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert-Mayer 60 years later. When asked how that felt, Strickland noted that at first it was surprising to realize so few women had won the award: “But, I mean, I do live in a world of mostly men, so seeing mostly men doesn’t really ever surprise me either.”

The rarity of female Nobel laureates raises questions about women’s exclusion from education and careers in science and the undervaluing of women’s contributions on science teams. Women researchers have come a long way over the past century, but there’s overwhelming evidence that women remain underrepresented in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Studies have shown that those women who persist in these careers face explicit and implicit barriers to advancement. Bias is most intense in fields that are dominated by men, where women lack a critical mass of representation and are often viewed as tokens or outsiders. This bias is even more intense for transgender women and non-binary individuals.

As things are getting better in terms of equal representation, what still holds women back in the lab, in leadership and as award winners?

Read the rest of the article to learn more about the discrimination women experience throughout their careers in STEM, from getting and undergraduate degree to winning a Nobel Prize.


Sethanne said...

I stopped getting the emails. Are they still sent weekly?

Bryne Hadnott said...

Hi Sethanne—to sign up for the AAS Women’s Newsletter, which features some of the content from the blog, you can send an email to or sign up at