These Are The 50 Women Who Have Been Awarded The Nobel Prize Through History

Just 50 out of 923 laureates in the history of the Nobel Prize have been women. Do you know all of them?

Since founded in 1901 by Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to only 50 women in all of its six different categories, which involve science and the humanities. The most recent Laureate is Donna Strickland, the third woman to receive the Nobel in Physics in 117 years of history of the prize. Her work in the field of laser physics was recognized by the Swedish Academy, and Frances H. Arnold, who earned the prize in Chemistry, for her joint research of the enzymes evolution.

It’s worth noting that the number of women awarded by the Nobel Foundation between 1901 and 1918 represents just 5% of the total number of laureates, which up to now is 923. Another interesting fact is that, until 1960, only 12 women were awarded during this part of the twentieth century. However, by 2001 and 1027, 19 women had been recognized in different fields science and the humanities. This, of course, is an example of how the role of women has changed through time and how they have gained a more important role in society, particularly in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Curious history fact: Marie Curie is the only woman who has received the Nobel Prize twice: one in 1903 in Physics, and another in 1911 in Chemistry.

If you wonder about all the women awarded with the Nobel Prize through history, here’s the ultimate list:

Donna Strickland, awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics this year.


Maria Curie (1903), “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena."

María Goeppert Mayer (1963), “for their discoveries concerning nuclear shell structure.”

Donna Strickland (2018), “for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems.”

Marie Curie in her laboratory. She is the only woman who has been awarded twice.


Marie Curie (1911), “in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium”.

Irène Joliot-Curie (1935), “in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements”.

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1964), “for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances.”

Ada E. Yonath (2009), “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.”

Frances H. Arnold (2018), “for the directed evolution of enzymes.”

Youyou Tu discovered a new therapy against Malaria.

Physiology or Medicine

Gerty Theresa Cori (1947), “for their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen.”

Rosalyn Yalow (1977), “for the development of radioimmunoassays of peptide hormones.”

Barbara McClintock (1983), “for her discovery of mobile genetic elements.”

Rita Levi-Montalcini (1986), “for their discoveries of growth factors.”

Gertrude B. Elion (1988), “for their discoveries of important principles for drug treatment.”

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1995), “for their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development.”

Linda B. Buck (2004), “for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system.”

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (2008), “for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus.”

Carol W. Greider and Elizabeth H. Blackburn (2009), “for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.”

May-Britt Moser (2014), “for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain.”

Youyou Tu (2015), “for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria.”

Gabriela Mistral is the only Latin American woman who has been awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf (1909), “in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings.”

Grazia Deledda (1926), “for her idealistically inspired writings which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general.”

Sigrid Undset (1928), “principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages.”

Pearl Buck (1938), “for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces.”

Gabriela Mistral (1945), “for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world.”

Nelly Sachs (1966), “for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength.”

Nadine Gordimer (1991), “who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity.”

Toni Morrison (1993), “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”

Wislawa Szymborska (1996), “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.”

Elfriede Jelinek (2004), “for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power.”

Doris Lessing (2007), “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny.”

Herta Müller (2009), “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.”

Alice Munro (2013), “master of the contemporary short story.”

Svetlana Alexievich (2015), “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

Activist Rigoberta Menchú has defended the rights of indigenous people in Latin America.


Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner, née Countess Kinsky von Chinic und Tettau (1904)

Jane Addams (1931)

Emily Greene Balch (1946)

Mairead Corrigan (1976)

Betty Williams (1976)

Mother Teresa (1979)

Alva Myrdal (1982)

Aung San Suu Kyi (1991), “for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.”

Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.”

Jody Williams (1997), “for their work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines.”

Shirin Ebadi (2003), “for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children.”

Wangari Muta Maathai (2004), “for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Tawakkol Karman, and Leyma Gbowee (2011), “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

Malala Yousafzai (2014), “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Economic Sciences

Elinor Ostrom (2009), “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons.”


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