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Gender gap persists in Nobel Prizes

Three women win 2015 Nobel Prizes, two for work on their own, as century-old trend shows signs of eroding

Wided Bouchamaoui was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her work as part of Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet, making her one of three women to win the prize this year. But 2015 continued a familiar trend: Most of this year’s Nobel laureates were men.

Since the Nobel Prize was established in 1901, only 5.35 percent of the 897 recipients have been female, French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday. But it noted that the numbers have started to shift a little in the 21st century. Of the 48 women who have been awarded the prize, 17 have won since 2001, the paper found, based on the Norwegian Nobel Committee's statistics.

Most of those women were awarded the prize in collaboration with men — as male scientists' assistants or spouses, the paper noted — rather than being recognized for their own art or scientific discoveries.

That pattern did not hold this year; the female winners were recognized for work done in their own right. Belarusian investigative journalist and author Svetlana Alexievich won the literature prize for her reporting on human rights abuses, and Chinese scientist Youyou Tu won the prize in medicine for her discovery of a malaria treatment.

Still, female recipients are much less likely than men to be recognized for their scientific achievements, the paper found. Out of 49 prizes awarded to women since 1901, 30 were for literature or peace, it said. Marie Curie won a Nobel twice — in chemistry and physics — with her husband.

Le Monde’s data analysis also found that the group of female winners is more diverse than male winners. More than 20 nationalities are represented among female Nobel laureates, while most men are from Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and France.

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