Female Nobel Prize winners recognized during Women’s History Month


The Nobel Prize, which is awarded in five different categories, is typically an annual award. This prize is given to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” according to Alfred Nobel’s will. The Nobel Prize is a prestigious award and has been an international tradition since its beginnings in 1901.

Forty-eight women have been awarded the prize from the years 1901 to 2015, according to the official Nobel Prize website, with many of them being honored in the past decade. Marie Curie, recipient of 1903 and of 1911, is the only woman who has won twice.

Here are some of the past female recipients:

Maria Goeppert Mayer developed the nuclear shell model, explaining how neutrons and protons are structured inside atomic nuclei. (Wikimedia Commons)

Maria Goeppert Mayer — 1963

 “For their discoveries concerning nuclear shell structure,” the Nobel Prize website says.

Maria Goeppert Mayer is the only other woman, beside Marie Curie, who has won the Nobel Prize in physics.

Only three other women have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry besides Marie Curie.


Irène Joliot-Curie — 1935

“In recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements.”

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin — 1964

“For her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances.”

Ada E. Yonath — 2009

“For studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.”


There are a dozen women who have received the prize in the physiology or medicine category. Here are a few:

Rosalyn Yalow — 1977

“For the development of radioimmunoassays of peptide hormones.”

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi — 2008

“For their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus.”

Youyou Tu (right) works in the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences with her tutor Lou Zhicen (left) in the 1950s. (Wikimedia Commons)

Youyou Tu — 2015

“For her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria.”

Fourteen women have won the Nobel Prize in literature, and more than a dozen have won in the peace category. 


Sixteen women have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Notable women include:

Mother Theresa — 1979

Leader of Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta

Malala Yousafzai — 2014

“For their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Malala was also the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate, being 17 years old at the time. These Nobel Prize recipients are just a few of the women have contributed to culture and science through their hard work.

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