Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

‘No gender or ethnic quotas’ says Nobel academy head

Published on: 12 October, 2021

Since 1901, the year of the inception of the Nobel prize, the total number of women who have won the Nobel prize is 59.

This year investigative journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines, was the only woman honoured.  She is sharing the Nobel peace prize with fellow journalist Dmitry Muratov. of the 13 recipients this year she is the only woman.  According to Bloomberg this was below the average in the last decade.

Interestingly, only two women have ever won the economics prize since it was given out starting in 1969. On average, less than 2 women won a Nobel Prize each year from 2010 to 2020.

In response to the news of the Nobel prizes this year, Billie Jean King tweeted on Monday: ‘Since the creation of the #NobelPrize program 126 years ago, fewer than 60 women have been named Nobel laureates.’

On average, less than 2 women won a Nobel Prize each year from 2010 to 2020.

But Goran Hansson, Swedish scientist and head of the academy that awards the prizes, ruled out the notion of gender or ethnicity quotas in the selection of Nobel laureates. According to Hansson the idea of quotas was discussed but it was decided that quotas would detract from the legitimacy of the prize.

Hansson said: ‘We made sure that we know about the problem and also about subconscious bias, etc in the [prize-awarding] committees and academies. We’ve had lectures by sociologists, we’ve had group discussions, we have put quite a lot of effort into it,” he added.

“In the end, we will give the prize to those who are found the most worthy, those who have made the most important contributions.

In 2017, however, the Nobel Foundation responded  to the lack of female winners by promising to expand their nomination process to include more women.

This year’s Nobel prize in literature was awarded to Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah. Of the 118 literature laureates since the first Nobel was awarded in 1901, more than 80 percent  have been Europeans or North Americans.