2018 Women Nobel Laureates: The Ultimate Women of Letters

This week’s announcements of the 2018 winners of the Nobel Prize have been heartwarming and inspiring due to the three women who have been nominated. Groundbreaker Donna Strickland (one of only three women who have ever won the prize in physics), Renaissance woman Frances H. Arnold (one of only five women to win the prize in chemistry, and as much a hero in her personal life as she is in her career), and brave survivor-turned-activist Nadia Murad (one of the younger Nobel recipients at just age 25, mentored by another extraordinary woman, Amal Clooney). Evidently, the Nobel nomination committee is becoming more attuned to the aware of the dearth of talented women receiving prizes or even just receiving adequate acclaim for their work in general. Dr. Strickland was so generous as to compliment her male colleagues, saying that her co-recipients also deserved to win the prize – one can only wonder how many men would have done the same with their female colleagues. Consider this in light of physicist Alessandro Strumia’s comments at CERN. While I always try to look for a grain of truth in what the opposition says, and not immediately jump to a position, I do feel that his remarks and data were short-sighted, incomplete, foolish, poorly researched, and overall offensive to women and even the men who support us. Thankfully, CERN has suspended him. And sadly, he is not alone; there are numerous silent Alessandro Strumias out there, and cultures who subscribe to his viewpoint.

The other unfortunate occurrence, in my view, is the fact that the Nobel committee is not awarding a literature prize this year. This is due to the sexual assault scandal among the nominators. While I can understand there is turmoil on their end, this shortchanges writers who deserve to win the award. It shortchanges readers and literature-lovers all over the world who look up to the literary firmament to inspire them in their daily lives. It’s a shame when sexism has to get in the way of people getting their due credit, be it in physics or writing.

Let’s hope Monday’s announcement for the Nobel Prize in Economics includes a woman.

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