The Nobel Prizes over the years: 57 women, 877 men

This is the traditional Nobel Prize Week
The Nobel Prizes over the years: 57 women, 877 men

The Nobel prize week has just started. Early October every year, the winners of the prestigious Nobel Prizes are announced. Since 1901, when the first prizes were awarded, the vast majority have been men. In total 934 persons (and 28 organisations) have had the honour but only 57 of them have been women so it will be noted if the statistics are improved this year.

The Nobel Prize amount for 2021 is set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 10.0 million (USD 1.14 million) per full Nobel Prize.

The first price this year, the one in medicine, was Monday announced to be  shared by two American men: David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries on how we sense touch and heat.

There are five prizes that are the real Nobel prizes: medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, and peace plus one in economy that is not a “real” Nobel prize. It was not created by Alfred Nobel but to celebrate the 300 year anniversary of the Swedish central bank in 1968.


Tue Oct 5 prize in physics decided by the Swedish Academy of Science;

Wed Oct 6 prize in chemistry decided by the Swedish Academy of Science;

Thu Oct 7 prize in literature decided by the Swedish Academy

Fri Oct 8 prize in peace decided by the Norwegian Nobel Committee;

Mon Oct 11 Swedish Central Bank’s prize in economy in memory of Alfred Nobel decided by the Swedish Academy of Science.

The Nobel Foundation is a private institution established in 1900 based on the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. He was successful and held 355 different patents including dynamite and he owned a major manufacturer of cannons and other armaments.  He was born in Stockholm on Oct 21, 1833 and died in San Remo, Italy on December 10, 1896.


On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes.

934 laureates and 28 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2020. A small number of individuals and organizations have been honoured more than once, which means that 930 individuals and 25 unique organizations have received the Nobel Prize in total.

Only one woman, Marie Curie, has been honoured twice, with the prize in physics 1903 and the one in chemistry in 1911

The youngest laureate so far is Pakistani Malala Yousafzai who was only 17 years old when she in 2014 got the peace prize for her work defending children’s rights.


Two have declined the prize: Frenchman Jean Paul Sartre awarded the 1964 prize in literature, declined the prize because he had consistently declined all official honours.

Vietnamese Le Duc Tho was awarded the 1973 peace prize jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. They were awarded the prize for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Duc Tho said that he was not in a position to accept the prize, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason.


Others have been forced to decline the prize: Adolf Hitler forbade three Germans, Richard Kuhn, Adolf Butenandt and Gerhard Domagk from accepting the prize. All of them could later receive the diploma and medal, but not the prize amount.

Boris Pasternak initially accepted the 1958 literature prize but was later coerced by the authorities of the Soviet Union to decline.

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