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Do we have Good Women in Science?

14 November 2017

From the Doctoral Studies WG

A tradition in the Fall: the Nobel Prizes. Once more, women are not represented in the list of Nobel Prize winners. This is also becoming a tradition, but we should not get used to it. We should reflect on what is happening to women in Science in 2017, because it is hard to believe that after more than 100 years of recognition to scientists there are only 18 women that have done a good job, against the astonishing number of 581 male pairs.

This year nine persons have been recognized in Science: Medicine, Physics and Chemistry. None of them is a woman. None of the last year was a woman either. We know that female researchers had been considered as potential candidates: Emmanuelle Charpentier (expert in microbiology, genetics and biochemistry), Jennifer Doudna (expert in chemistry and molecular and cell biology), Yuan Chang (virologist and pathologist), Sandra M Faber (astrophysicist)… etc. All of them are associated with important discoveries in Science. However, we are unable to confirm either whether they were in the list of nominees or not, because another tradition of the Nobel Prize is to keep this information secret for many years; too many years to compensate for the hard work of these women.

The scientific community should be ashamed for not finding a solution for this lack of visibility. There are female researchers, very good female researchers. Why are they not acknowledged in any of the high-level competitions? Is it normal that, after more than 100 years of Nobel Prize, 96,99% of the awardees are male?

Many studies have demonstrated with numbers that some of the fields of Science, such as Health Sciences and Life Sciences, are overwhelmed with women. Where is the work of these women recognized? The name for this is surely discrimination. If the Scientific community agrees that we need female role models to change the scientific world, we need to promote those names to make the new generations see that this is not just a man’s world anymore. Or, at least, it should not be.

The Doctoral Studies Working Group in its last meeting in Turku decided to stand up against the continuous lack of female researchers recognized with the Nobel Prize and prompt those that are responsible for the judgment to consider the situation that clearly indicates gender discrimination in the results.