American Values & the Nobel Prize: Are “Women” the real story here?

Marie Curie The global firestorm surrounding Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize may have obscured recognition of a new record set in 2009: This year, more women won Nobel Prizes than in any single year since the beginning in 1901.
    Reporters on National Public Radio, among other news media, did touch upon this women’s record—but the overwhelming attention to the Peace Prize all but drowned out the milestone for women.

Five of the 13 Nobel laureates in 2009 are women:

Herta Müller won the Nobel in Literature.

Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson shared the Nobel in Economic Sciences.

Carol W. Greider, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, and Jack W. Szostak shared the Nobel in Medicine/Physiology.

Ada E. Yonath, Thomas A. Steitz, and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan won the Nobel in Chemistry.

The Nobel Committee has awarded 537 prizes since 1901. All but 41 went to men. Only four people have ever won two Nobels. The only woman, Marie Curie (shown in today’s photo), won the Physics Nobel in 1903 (shared) and the Chemistry Nobel in 1911.

The oldest laureate alive today is Rita Levi-Montalcini, who won the 1986 Nobel in Medicine/Physiology. She turned 100 in April this year.

What do you think of this new record? What does it mean? Is it a trend that will shape our future?

To learn more about the prizes and the recipients, visit the Nobel web site at

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