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The 57 women who have won the Nobel Prize

  • The 57 women who have won the Nobel Prize

    With 2020 Nobel prizes going so far to Andrea Ghez for physics, Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier for chemistry, and Louise Glück for literature, there are now 57 women who have been awarded a Nobel Prize out of the more than 900 recipients. One woman—Marie Curie—received two Nobel prizes.

    To highlight all the winners, Stacker turned to data from the Nobel Prize website. These women have made outstanding contributions to the worlds of medicine, science, art, and peace-keeping. Just reaching this height of fame and recognition meant facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. Many women on this list had to contend with extreme sexism in male-dominated professions, but some Nobel Prize winners also had to overcome physical violence. All their stories are unique and equally inspiring.

    Nobel committees have distinct methods for deciding winners. The Nobel Peace Prize, for example, is awarded by a five-person committee and anyone who meets the criteria can be nominated. For literature, however, nominations can only be made by qualified people. Despite the different nominating and selection processes, two rules apply to all awards: No person can nominate themself, and the names of the nominators and the nominees cannot be revealed until 50 years after winners are announced.

    Read on to learn about these women’s exciting contributions to society, from helpful advancements in the HIV epidemic to the abolition of landmines to—in the case of Andrea Ghez—pioneering research on the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole.

    You may also like: 50 most peaceful countries in the world

  • Marie Curie (born Skłodowska)

    - Award: Nobel Prize in Physics
    - Year: 1903

    Marie Curie, who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, coined the term “radioactivity.” In 1903, she and her husband won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their study into spontaneous radiation. They share the award with Antoine Henri Becquerel for his discovery of radioactivity.

  • Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner (born Countess Kinsky von Chinic und Tettau)

    - Award: Nobel Peace Prize
    - Year: 1905

    Referred to as the “generalissimo of the peace movement,” this Austrian woman penned an anti-war novel called “Lay Down Your Arms” that won her the Nobel Peace Prize. It was one of the most influential books during the century with a strong anti-militaristic message.

  • Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf

    - Award: Nobel Prize in Literature
    - Year: 1909

    Born in Sweden, Lagerlöf won the Nobel Prize in Literature. She’s often credited for having a vivid imagination, and she has used stories from her hometown in Värmland County as inspiration. “Gösta Berling's Saga” was the name of her first novel.

  • Marie Curie (born Skłodowska)

    - Award: Nobel Prize in Chemistry
    - Year: 1911

    Marie Curie received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year for her further investigation of radium and polonium. She was the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes, and she promoted the use of radium in the First World War to treat soldiers who were injured.

  • Grazia Deledda

    - Award: Nobel Prize in Literature
    - Year: 1926

    This Italian writer who lived in Rome for part of her life earned the Nobel Prize for Literature for stories about life on her native island of Sardinia. She also developed some of her characters based on people she knew in real life.

  • Sigrid Undset

    - Award: Nobel Prize in Literature
    - Year: 1928

    The Second World War and the Nazi invasion forced this writer to flee Norway, but she returned when the war was over. She was born in Denmark and wrote a trilogy about life in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, called “Kristin Lavransdatter.”

  • Jane Addams

    - Award: Nobel Peace Prize
    - Year: 1931

    Born in Cedarville, Ill., Jane Addams was a social worker and a feminist. She stood at the forefront of the settlement house movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Irène Joliot-Curie

    - Award: Nobel Prize in Chemistry
    - Year: 1935

    Born in Paris, this French scientist was the daughter of Nobel winners Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. Jointly with her husband, Joliot-Curie was awarded the Nobel for discovering artificial radioactivity. Her research was an important step in the discovery of uranium fission.

  • Pearl Buck

    - Award: Nobel Prize in Literature
    - Year: 1938

    Pearl Buck, who was born in West Virginia, began writing in the ‘20s. She was the daughter of missionaries and spent most of her life before 1934 in Zhenjiang, China. Her novel “The Good Earth” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and was a best-seller.

  • Gabriela Mistral

    - Award: Nobel Prize in Literature
    - Year: 1945

    Mistral is a pseudonym for Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga. She was born in Vicuña, Chile, and began to write poetry after her lover, a railway employee, committed suicide. She taught at various universities around the U.S.