This Sunday, some of the brightest minds will gather in Stockholm, Sweden for the 122nd Nobel Prize ceremony. This year, a total of seven men and four women are the lucky winners. They join the ranks of extraordinary personalities who have been awarded one of the most prestigious awards in the past.
We looked at the data behind the Nobel Prize winners, particularly at the gender divide of the recipients, and put this year’s award winners in a historical context.
Keep scrolling to reveal the insights.
Marie Curie made history in 1903 becoming the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. 1976 was the first year where two women won an award in the same year – something that wouldn’t happen again for another 15 years.
Over the past two decades, women have only missed out on receiving a prize five times. However, men continue to have a higher success rate, as there has never been a year where they were not awarded or where the gender split was equal.
Looking at winners over time, it becomes clear that women had a much slower start. While they have been winning more prizes in recent years, they still lag far behind the men.
The gender gap in Nobel Prize winners can be traced back to the underrepresentation of women in university courses and research, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
For many years, women have been underrepresented in STEM, both in academic and professional settings. Recent data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reveals that only 27% of core STEM graduates in Higher Education in the UK are women or non-binary.
Although that number has increased from 22,020 in 2015/16 to 39,805 in 2021/22, their overall representation among students has remained the same.
According to the most recent UK government census data, women represent only 26% of the STEM workforce after graduation. Although this is a slight increase, if progress continues at the current rate, it will take until 2070 to achieve equal representation in STEM.
Good things take time, and this is often true for Nobel Prize winners who usually have long careers. The average for winning a Nobel Prize is 61 years. But, in some categories, winners are younger or older when they are awarded.
The data from the Nobel Prize winners shows that there are countries that are particularly good at attracting bright minds to the country. The majority of the prize winners were living in the USA at the time of the award. Great Britain and Germany follow in the ranking.
However, when breaking down the award winners by country of birth, a more diverse picture emerges. But here, too, it is clear that most of them come from Europe and the USA.
Most winners are originally from the United States. It’s also the place where most laureates worked or lived when they won a Nobel Prize.
But not all of those living in the United States when winning a Nobel Prize have been born there – some come from all over the world, for example from the UK, Canada, Germany or France.
The country of residence when winning a price is derived from the organization the winner was affiliated with when winning. There are a number of winners that weren’t affiliated with any organization and, therefore, no place of residence is recorded.
Beyond the Nobel Prize, there are a multitude of ceremonies and awards that provide an opportunity to delve into the data behind the winners. The analysis can reveal interesting patterns and disparities within the data. Unlock the untold stories within Nobel Prize data by creating your own visualizations – and feel free to share your creations with us!