The winning ways of men

December 3, 1999

Of the 170 science Nobel prizewinners alive today, 167 are men. Of other top international prizes open to be won by scientists, the Crafoord prize (Sweden) has been awarded to 38 men and no women, the Japan prize to 38 men and no women, Kyoto prizes to 29 men and two women, the Lemelson-MIT awards to nine men and two women, the Charles Stark Draper prize to eight men and no women and, perhaps most strikingly, the Jung prize for medicine, in Germany, has had no women among 48 winners. Prizes awarded nationally have a similar profile. In France the Prix Robin was established in 1917 and first awarded to a woman in 1999.

An analysis of female membership of national academies of science reveals a similar picture. Several EU member states including Austria, Greece, Flemish Belgium and Portugal, have all-male academies of science, and the Dutch manage only one woman member among 237 academicians. In the UK the Royal Society manages 43 out of 1,185 FRSs, with the Royal Academy of Engineering having 13 female FEngs out of 1,117 and the Royal Society of Edinburgh 54 women among 1,148 FRSEs. With 12 per cent female membership (ten out of 86) the Latvian Academy of Sciences is top of the league in Europe (omitting Turkey), while the Royal Belgian Academy of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts is the top EU academy with 7 per cent of women members - two out of 29.

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