Philippine journalist Maria Ressa was the only woman to win a Nobel Prize this year
The head of the academy that awards the Nobel Prizes in science has said they will not introduce gender quotas.
The head of the scientific academy that awards the Nobel Prizes has stated that gender quotas will not be implemented.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ head, Goran Hansson, stated that they want people to win “because they produced the most important discovery.”
Women have won 59 Nobel Prizes since the award’s inception in 1901.
This year’s honoree was Maria Ressa, the sole woman. Marie Curie was the first woman to win the prize, and she still holds the record for being the only woman to win it twice.
“The fact that there are so few female Nobel laureates is terrible, as it reflects inequitable social conditions that existed in the past and also exist today. And there’s still a lot to be done.” Mr Hansson said, according to the AFP news agency.
“We have decided not to establish gender or race quotas,” he stated, adding that the decision was made “in the spirit of Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament.”
Alfred Nobel, a Swedish manufacturer and chemist, established the prizes in his will, which was written in 1895, a year before his death.
“At the conclusion of the day, we’ll award the honour to those who are deemed the most deserving, those who have made the most significant contributions,” he stated.
Mr Hansson added that, while more women are being recognised now than in earlier decades, the number is rising “from a very low base.”
“Keep in mind that women account for just about 10% of natural science professors in Western Europe and North America, and even fewer in East Asia,” he said.
However, the scientist claimed that they will “guarantee that an increasing number of women scientists are invited to nominate, and we will continue to ensure that women are on our committees – but we need support, and society needs help here.”
“We need changing attitudes about women coming into science… so that they have an opportunity to make these discoveries,” he continued.
Last year, scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for creating methods to modify DNA, making them the first two women to do so.
It was the first time that any of the science prizes had been given to two women without the inclusion of a male collaborator.