The Nobel Prize has only been awarded to 48 women between 1901 and 2015, compared to 825 men. While the divide between men and women may be slowly closing, with women receiving 11.1 per cent of the awards since 2010, there is still a long way to go before we reach equality.
These prestigious international awards are bestowed in recognition of academic, cultural or scientific advancements. This Women’s History Month, we’re honouring the first women to be awarded the Nobel Prize in each field.
Marie Curie (Physics and Chemistry)
In 1903 Madam Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Antoine Henri Becquerel and her husband Pierre Curie.
“In recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel”
Becquerel discovered radioactivity in 1986, inspiring Marie and Pierre Curie to further investigate the phenomenon. From their research, they extracted two previously unknown elements, polonium and radium, which were both more radioactive than the previously discovered uranium.
Curie is also the only woman to have been honoured twice, also becoming the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. She died in 1934, aged 66, due to exposure to radiation during her research and service in X-ray units during the war.
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