“Now the perception is, yes, women are here to stay” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Cover image credit: Abigail Malate, originally for Inside Science
2018 was the first time that women were awarded Nobel Prizes in both Chemistry and Physics (Frances Arnold and Donna Strickland, respectively). With Nadia Murad – who won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize – these women comprise a quarter of the Nobel Laureates for the year, a rare occurrence and a welcome change from the previous two years where no women were awarded the prize.
Upon much reflection by the Nobel Prize committees, the organization has decided that now is the time for change. The Nobel Prize Organization declared this morning in a press release that for the foreseeable future they will only be accepting Nobel Prize nominations for women.
“Those two girls [Arnold and Strickland] must have convinced the committee to take such a bold and, frankly ludicrous, step,” claimed an old Swedish man, formerly on the committee, who asked to remain nameless, “Apparently all it takes is two girls winning a prestigious award for the committee to think that women can indeed do science. Ridiculous!”
This move is an effort by committee to make up for past discrimination against women. Responding to a reporter’s question about when the prizes will once again be open to men, the interim head of the Nobel Prize Committee, Birgit “Bork Bork” Bäckman, paraphrased American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in saying, “Hopefully on the 32nd of [expletive] never.
The Nobel Prize committee also cited Frances Arnold as inspiration for this change. In a profile in the New York Times, Arnold explained how she was able to revolutionize protein engineering: “They might say ‘It’s not science’ or that ‘Gentlemen don’t do random mutagenesis.’ But I’m not a scientist  and I’m not a gentleman, so it didn’t bother me at all. I laughed all the way to the bank, because it works.”
The Nobel committee declared this morning that, “We are through with gentleman scientists and leaders. It is time for a female revolution in world leadership and technological disruption.”
While men might be upset not knowing if they will ever be eligible for the Nobel Prize again, Monica Gutiérrez, a physics graduate student feels differently. “I’m pretty sure they’ll survive,” said Gutiérrez, “After all, women still only receive 64 cents of research prize money for every male dollar. If men would just stop being so emotional about one prize, maybe they would have more time to spend with their children while their wives revolutionize science.”
It remains to be seen how the change in Nobel awardees will play out in the field, but the hope is that this recognition of women will spread to other prestigious award associations. Maybe in the far future, we’ll even be brave enough to elect a woman to the White House.
Until then, stay tuned for a feminist take on the science around you, and go do awesome work!
By Kelsie Anson
1. Arnold is a chemical engineer and identifies as such.