The 12 women who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology

Keywords: nobel prize, physiology, medicine, gender equality in health women, gender bias

Abstract

Introduction: the Nobel Prize is one of the highest academic honors in the world. Since its first edition, in 1901, until 2021, there have been hundreds of winners. In the Medicine or Physiology category, chosen by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, 112 awards have been given to 224 laureates, among them, only 12 (5.4%) women.
Aims and source of data: with the aim of reviewing the biographies, characteristics, and peculiarities of each woman awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology. Data were analyzed from the following sources: the Award page, websites of the institutions to which some of them have been or are affiliated, books with biographies of Nobel laureates in Medicine or Physiology, and articles in the PubMed database.
Summary of findings: the average age when receiving the award was 63.4 years. The most recurrent country of origin was the United States of America, also responsible for the largest number of institutions to which the laureates were affiliated at the time of the award. The academic training of the laureates was quite diverse, ranging among medicine, chemistry, physics, biology, pharmacy, psychology and natural sciences. Five of the 12 laureates did not have children.
Comments: the origins and trajectories, although plural, have points in common, such as a fascination with science since childhood and the need to overcome additional barriers throughout their education, because of their sex.
Conclusion: investments on a global scale are necessary to increase equity between sexes.

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Author Biographies

Anna Maria Garcia Cardoso, Hospital São Lucas da PUCRS (HSL), Department of Surgery, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.

General Surgery Resident at São Lucas Hospital of Pontifical University Catholic of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.

Fernanda Santos Wengrover, Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (UFCSPA), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.

Medical Student at Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (UFCSPA), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.

Marcelo Garcia Toneto, Hospital São Lucas da PUCRS (HSL), Department of Surgery, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.

Adjunct Professor at School of Medicine of Pontifical University Catholic of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), RS, Brazil; MSc at Clinical Medicine and PhD at Ciruigic Clinic from Pontifical University Catholic of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), RS, Brazil; Head of the General Surgery and Gastrointestinal Surgery Services at São Lucas Hospital, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; Full Member of the Brazilian College of Surgeons.

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Published
2021-12-20
How to Cite
Cardoso, A. M. G., Wengrover, F. S., & Toneto, M. G. (2021). The 12 women who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. Scientia Medica, 31(1), e40589. https://doi.org/10.15448/1980-6108.2021.1.40589
Section
History of Medicine