Nobel Prize 2009: A record year for Women

December 13th, 2009  |  Published in General Awareness

This year a record five women were honored by the Nobel committees. In total, only 40 women have won the prestigious prizes, including Marie Curie who took the 1903 physics prize and the 1911 chemistry prize.

The 2009 winners include:

  • Elinor Ostrom, 76, who made history by being the first woman to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics Sciences, sharing it with fellow American Oliver Williamson for their work in economic governance
  • Elizabeth H. Blackburn, 60, and Carol W. Greider, 48, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Jack W.Szostak for their work in solving the mystery of how chromosomes protect themselves from degrading when cells divide. Greider is American and Blackburn has dual U.S. – Australian citizenship.
  • Ada Yonath, 70, of Israel, who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Americans Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz for their atom-by-atom description of ribosomes.
  • Herta Mueller, 56, a Romanian-born German writer who won the literature prize for her critical depiction of life behind the Iron Curtain.

Other women who have won Nobel Prizes include literature winners Toni Morrison and Doris Lessing and peace prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, a democracy activist in Myanmar, and Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi.


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