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It is a fact: women are under-represented among Nobel Prize winners.
Between 1901 and 2019

It is a fact: women are under-represented among Nobel Prize winners.
Between 1901 and 2019

out of 923 prize winners

only 54 women have won this prize

20 of which in the field of science (physics, chemistry and medicine)

and among these, only 12 have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine

2 of whom were awarded the prize as spouses

out of 923 prize winners

only 54 women have won this prize

20 of which in the field of science (physics, chemistry and medicine)

and among these, only 12 have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine

2 of whom were awarded the prize as spouses

nominees of the nobel prizes
Only 1.8% of the nominations for the Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine are women.
nobel laureates 1901-2019
Green dots represent the Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine awarded to women.

The reason for this has been unequal access to education, technology and leadership positions, which has precluded many brilliant female minds from careers in science and blocked their progress.

The lack of prizes and acknowledgement is a reflection of the inequality that women too often experience throughout their careers. The gender gap in science, technology and innovations leads to wasted talent and unexploited discoveries. And without visible and recognized female scientists, who set an example and act as role models, young female scientists and researchers can be discouraged from dedicating their lives to scientific research.

Following on from the first series of #contagiousstories we are dedicating a second series to the 12 women who have won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

See below timeline for their discoveries.

timeline donne da nobel, parte 1
timeline donne da nobel, parte 2

Our goal is to draw attention to the women who have contributed to the future of medicine and who are still guiding new generations of young women by encouraging empowerment and gender mainstreaming.

Each of them has made a fundamental contribution to research.

Let’s just think about the discovery of artemisinin, the anti-malarial drug developed by the Chinese immunologist Tu Youyou (2015 Nobel Prize), or the research into cellular ageing, which led Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Carol W. Greider (2009 Nobel Prize) to understand how telomeres protect chromosomes from the deterioration of genetic matter.

As we will see, each of their stories is different. Yet, they have several traits in common.

Audacity: they are not afraid to go down roads never travelled before by their colleagues

Brilliance: they see unexpected connections between phenomena that seem very different

Curiosity: they are interested in seemingly “minor” aspects and create new avenues of research

Energy: they work enthusiastically and tirelessly, which makes them unstoppable

Generosity: they know how to work as a team and share their discoveries with their colleagues

Passion: they dream about changing the world and reducing people’s suffering

Resilience: they never give up when faced with the difficulties and obstacles they find along their path

Tenacity: as young scientists they study a specific area, which they take forward for the rest of their lives

Audacity: they are not afraid to go down roads never travelled before by their colleagues

Brilliance: they see unexpected connections between phenomena that seem very different

Curiosity: they are interested in seemingly “minor” aspects and create new avenues of research

Energy: they work enthusiastically and tirelessly, which makes them unstoppable

Generosity: they know how to work as a team and share their discoveries with their colleagues

Passion: they dream about changing the world and reducing people’s suffering

Resilience: they never give up when faced with the difficulties and obstacles they find along their path

Tenacity: as young scientists they study a specific area, which they take forward for the rest of their lives

Their work has changed the way that we look at medicine and their stories deserve to be known, acknowledged and told.

Images and drawings have been created by the young and talented Nina Chhita, artist name @nina.draws.scientists

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Read here all the #contagiousstories of the women who changed the history of medicine.

tu youyou

Tu Youyou, the Nobel Prize for her work on malaria

Tu Youyou won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, together with William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura, for her important work on the cure for malaria.

> Read More
may britt moser

May, the neuroscientist who reconstructed the map of our brain

May Britt-Moser won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2014 together with her husband Edvard I. Moser and John O'Keefe, thanks to her studies on neuroscience, which mapped the cells that constitute the positioning system in the brain.

> Read More
carol nobel

Carol, the youngest woman to win the Noble Prize in Medicine

Carol W. Greider won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine, along with Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak, for her research on cellular ageing

> Read More
elizabeth blackburn

Elizabeth, the explorer of cellular ageing

Elizabeth Blackburn won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine, along with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak, for her research on cellular ageing and in particular on how chromosomes are protected by telomeres, our biological clocks.

> Read More
Françoise barrè sinoussi

Françoise, the virologist who discovered the HIV virus

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine, together with Luc Montagnier, for the discovery of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS. Her research has been instrumental in radically improving the therapies used to treat patients.

> Read More
linda buck

Linda, the scientist who unveiled the secrets of smell

Linda B. Buck won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2004, together with Richard Axel, for her work on olfactory receptors and for isolating the genes that, when we smell a certain scent, enable us to recognize it again in...

> Read More
christiane nusslein volhard

Christiane, the genius of biochemistry

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1995, together with Eric Wieschaus and Edward Lewis, for her discoveries on the genetic control of embryonic development.

> Read More
Gertrude B. Elion donne da nobel

Gertrude, the scientist who revolutionized pharmacology

Gertrude B. Elion won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for her research on acyclovir, an antiviral drug. Over her career she registered 45 pharmaceutical patents and was awarded 25 honorary degrees and doctorates.

> Read More
rita levi montalcini

Rita, the pioneer of neurobiology

Rita Levi-Montalcini was the first woman to be admitted to the Accademia Pontificia (Pontifical Academy of Sciences) and the only Italian to receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine, in 1986.

> Read More
Barbara McClintock

Barbara, the founder of cellular genetics

Barbara was awarded the Prize in 1983 for her discovery of transposons, the genetic elements capable of changing position within the genome. Her brilliant and revolutionary intuition dates back to the 1950s and was opposed for a long time by...

> Read More
Rosalyn Yallow

Rosalyn, the mother of endocrinology

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow was the sixth woman in the world to win the Nobel Prize in Science and the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine

> Read More
Gerty Cori donne da Nobel

Gerty, the first female winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine

Gerty Radnitz Cori was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1947.
The prize, shared with her husband Carl Cori and Argentine physiologist Bernardo Houssay, was awarded for the discovery of the metabolic process responsible for...

> Read More
Bannerbeacham black hole