Autumn has arrived in Stockholm

The sun is shining, but the air feels cold and crispy, and the leaves are turning red and yellow. Time to dig out a warm coat, gloves, a cap and winter boots; time to stock up on vitamin D to compensate for the lack of daylight; and time to buy wood for keeping warm during the coming months. Better be prepared for what’s ahead – shorter and shorter days, plunging temperatures, and the first snow.

This time of the year is also the time when the Nobel Prize winners are announced. Three men received this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics, one man received this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry, three men received this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, one man received this year’s Nobel Prize in literature, and two men received this year’s Nobel Prize in economy. Not a single woman was among these laureates. Not a single woman.

Only 44 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize in various disciplines over the past 110 years – and this number includes Marie Curie who obtained the prize twice, and this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureates Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman. Letting three women share this year’s peace price is of course a great idea, because it raises the number of women laureates enormously, from 40 (if we calculate Marie Curie only once) to 43 within just one year. What an achievement.

I find it amazing how the Nobel Prize committees manage, year after year, to find male laureates, and that they only managed to find 43 (!) women who deserve to be awarded the Nobel Prize. 43 women in 110 years – or 40 women in 109 years! This shows that women are too stupid, and obviously less clever than all the men; that women cannot become great scientists, or great writers; that the research that is conducted by women has not the high profile that is needed to receive the Nobel Prize. Or – does it actually reflect something completely different? For example, that the committees who award the prices are composed of predominantly male members with an average age of 50-60 plus? Or, that female scientists do not have a large enough buddy network that helps them being promoted? I have been told that Nobel Prize Winners are selected based on a very complicated process, which is entirely based on their scientific merits. But, who decides what the highest scientific merit is? Men (and very few women) – of course. Who decides what the biggest scientific achievement is? Men (and very few women) – of course. Who decides about who will get the Nobel Prize? Men (and very few women) – of course.

Each year I hope that more women would receive the Nobel Prize. Each year I am getting disappointed.

I am however happy that this year’s peace price goes to three women, who have fought hard to change the conditions in their respective countries: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman.

The peace price is awarded by a committee in Norway. The other prices are awarded by committees in Sweden. Maybe there is a real gender difference between the two countries?

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