Women who have won the Nobel Prize

Marie Skłodowska-Curie

Only one woman, Marie Skłodowska-Curie, has been honoured twice, with the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

This means that 46 women in total have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2014.

Among these women was Springs’ daughter Nadine Gordimer who won the Literature prize in 1991. The rationale for the awarding of this prize was “who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity”

Nadine Gordimer receiving the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate award from fellow Nobel Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2009. Gordimer won the Nobel prize for literature; Tutu won the prize for peace. (Image: Academy of Achievement)

Nadine Gordimer receiving the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate award from fellow Nobel Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2009. Gordimer won the Nobel prize for literature; Tutu won the prize for peace.
(Image: Academy of Achievement)

Marie Skłodowska-Curie and her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935, are the only mother-daughter pair to have won Nobel Prizes.

The Nobel Prizes are awarded annually to individuals who make outstanding contributions in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Literature, Peace, Physiology or Medicine and Economics.

All but the economics prize were established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel.

Here is a list, divided into the Nobel Categiories, of women who have been recognised for Nobel Prizes and the rationales behind the awards:

Physics

1903 –  Marie Skłodowska-Curie, of Poland and France, won jointly with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel”.

1963 – Maria Goeppert-Mayer of the United States for “for their discoveries concerning nuclear shell structure”.

Peace

1905 – Bertha Von Suttner, of Austria-Hungary, was awarded the prize as “Honourery President of Permanent International Peace Bureau, Bern, Swoitzerland; Author of Lay Down Your Arms.
1931 – Jane Addams, of the United States, which she shared with Nicholas Murray Butler. She was a sociologist and International President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
1946 – Emily Greene Balch, of the United States, which she shared with John Raleigh Mott. She was formerly professor of History and Sociology and Honourary International President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
1976 – Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, of the United Kingdon, who were founders of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement (later renamed Community of Peace People).
1979 – Mother Teresa, of India and Yugoslavia, who was a leader of missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.
1982 – Alva Myrdal, of Sweden, which she shared with Alfonso Garcia Robles. She was a former cabinet minister, diplomat and writer.
1991- Aung San Suu Kyi, of Burma, “for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights”.
1992 – Rigoberta Manchü, of Guatemala, “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples”
1997 – Jody Williams, from the United States, which she shared with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines “for their work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines”.

2003 – Sharin Ebadi, of Iran, “for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children”.

 2004 – Wangari Muta Maathai, of Kenya, “for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”.
Wangari Muta Maathai with her Nobel Prize for Peace.

Wangari Muta Maathai with her Nobel Prize for Peace.

2011 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Laymah Gbowee, from Liberia, and Tawakel Karman of Yemen, “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.

rom left to right:Tawakkul Karman, Leymah Gbowee, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf display their awards during the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize.

rom left to right:Tawakkul Karman, Leymah Gbowee, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf display their awards during the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize.

2014 – Malala Yousafzai, of Pakistan, which she shared with Kailash Satyarthi “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”. At 17 she became the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate.

Chemistry

1911 – Marie Skłodowska-Curie of Poland and France won her second Nobel Prize “in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element”

1935 – Irène Joliot-Curie, of France, shared the award with Frédéric Joliot-Curie “in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements”

1964 – Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, of the United Kingdon, “for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances”

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

Physiology or Medicine

1947 – Gerty Theresa Cori, from the United States, which she shared with Carl Ferdinand Cori and Bernardo Houssay” for their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen”.

1977 – Rosalyn Yalow, of the United States, which she shared with Roger Guillemin and Andrew Schally “for the development of radioimmunoassays of peptide hormones”.

1983 – Barbara McClintock, of the United States, “for her discovery of mobile genetic elements”.

1986 – Rita Levi-Montalcini, of Italy and the United States, which she shared with Stanley Cohen “for their discoveries of growth factors”.

1988 – Gertrude B. Elion, of the United States, which she shared with James W. Black and George H. Hitchings “for their discoveries of important principles for drug treatment”.

1995 – Christine Nüsslein-Volhard, of Germany, which she shared with Edward B. Lewis and Eric F. Wieschaus “for their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development”.

2004 – Linda B. Buck of the United States, which she shared with Richard Axel “for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system”.

2008 – Francoise Barré-Sinoussi, of France “for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus”.

2009 – Elizabeth H. Blackburn, from Australia and the United States, which she shared with Jack W. Szostak “for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase”.

2009 – Carol W. Greider, of the United States which she shared withJack W. Szostak”for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase”.

2014 – May-Britt Moser, of Norway,  which she shared with Edvard Moser and John O’Keefe “for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain”.

Literature

1909 – Selma Ottilia Lovisa Laferlöf, Sweden, “in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings”.

1926 – Grazia Deledda, of Italy, “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”.

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

1938 – Pearl Buck, of the United States, “for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces”.

1945 – Gabriela Mistral, from Chile, “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”.

 1966 – Nelly Sachs, of Swedan and Germany, which she shared with Samuel Agnon “for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength”.
1991 – Nadine Gordimer from Springs, South Africa.1993 – Toni Morrison, of the United States, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”.
1996 – Wislawa Szymborka, of Poland, “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”.
2004 – Elfriede Jelinek, of Austria, “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”.

2007 – Doris Lessing, of the United Kingdon, who is decsribed thus: “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”.

2009 – Herta Müller, from Germany and Romania, “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”.

2013 – Alice Munro, from Canada, who is described as a “master of the contemporary short story”.

Economics
2009 – Elinor Ostrom, of the United States, which she shared with Oliver E. Williamson, “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”.

Information and rationales for the awards taken from nobelprize.org

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