List of Female Nobel Laureates

The Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Editorial credit: Ryan Rodrick Beiler /
The Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Editorial credit: Ryan Rodrick Beiler /

The Nobel Prize was founded by Alfred Nobel, a famous chemist, engineer, and innovator with strong interest in literature, drama, and peace work. He bestowed the majority of his wealth to future winners of the Nobel awards in his final will. This honor is often considered the most reputable award in the world.

The first person to win the Nobel Prize was Marie Curie, a physicist and chemist, who was a recipient in 1903. She shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel for their research efforts on radioactivity. At first, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was only going to nominate the men on the research team. However, one of the committee members was an advocate for women scientists and notified Pierre, who went on to protest the lack of recognition of Marie. The committee added her name to the nomination, and the team postponed their acceptance speech until 1905. Marie Curie went on to become the first female professor at the University of Paris in 1906.

Saint Mother Teresa: Nobel Peace Prize Winner of 1979

Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in present-day Macedonia where she became a nun and was later assigned as a teacher in India. She spent the most of her life in carrying out humanitarian efforts in India where she passed away in 1997. The Catholic Church canonized her in September of 2016. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 after founding the organization: Missionaries for Charity. The organization was dedicated to building homes for orphans and lepers as well as providing end of life care for the terminally ill. Saint Mother Teresa expanded the organization internationally throughout the years and by 1997, over 4,000 nuns were dedicated to managing the homes, hospices, and charity centers.

The Young Lady Who Conquered Death

Malala Yousafzai, one of the most famous among the female Nobel Prize winners, was born in Pakistan in 1997 and wrote a blog for the BBC, documenting her life under the influence of the Taliban and offering her opinion on the importance of education for girls. Her work became popular and led to her becoming the subject of a documentary and participating in several interviews, both in person and on television. In 2012, she survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban as she was on her way home after school. One of the bullets did, however, travel through her head and into her shoulder. She spent days in a state of unconsciousness, and when she improved, the medical staff transferred her to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in England for rehabilitation. The Taliban reiterated the threat against her life and that of her father. The situation gained international attention. Her work led to a petition for children to have the right to education and resulted in an amendment to the Right to Education Bill in Pakistan. She has since spoken at the UN, calling for increased access to education and received several awards and recognitions, including honorary Canadian citizenship. In 2014, her name entered the list of female Nobel Prize winners when she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in history, recognized for her opposition to the suppression of children and youth and her fight for the educational rights of all children.

Female Nobel Prize Winners: Inspiration to Women Around the World

In a world where women suffer oppression and continue to fight for equal rights and opportunities, seeing a woman honored with a Nobel Prize is a source of inspiration. Women are often underrepresented in various social and academic fields. Female Nobel Prize winners give women hope for the future and provide young girls a role model with whom they can identify.

Female Nobel Prize Winners: 1901 to 2015

1903Marie Skłodowska Curie (shared with Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel)Poland and FrancePhysics
1905Bertha von SuttnerAustria–HungaryPeace
1909Selma LagerlöfSwedenLiterature
1911Marie Skłodowska CuriePoland and FranceChemistry
1926Grazia DeleddaItalyLiterature
1928Sigrid UndsetNorwayLiterature
1931Jane Addams (shared with Nicholas Murray Butler)United StatesPeace
1935Irène Joliot-Curie (shared with Frédéric Joliot-Curie)FranceChemistry
1938Pearl S. BuckUnited StatesLiterature
1945Gabriela MistralChileLiterature
1946Emily Greene Balch (shared with John Raleigh Mott)United StatesPeace
1947Gerty Theresa Cori (shared with Carl Ferdinand Cori and Bernardo Houssay)United StatesPhysiology or Medicine
1963Maria Goeppert-Mayer (shared with J. Hans D. Jensen and Eugene Wigner)United StatesPhysics
1964Dorothy Crowfoot HodgkinUnited KingdomChemistry
1966Nelly Sachs (shared with Samuel Agnon)Sweden and GermanyLiterature
1976Betty WilliamsUnited KingdomPeace
1976Mairead CorriganUnited KingdomPeace
1977Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (shared with Roger Guillemin and Andrew Schally)United StatesPhysiology or Medicine
1979Mother TeresaIndia and YugoslaviaPeace
1982Alva Myrdal (shared with Alfonso García Robles)SwedenPeace
1983Barbara McClintockUnited StatesPhysiology or Medicine
1986Rita Levi-Montalcini (shared with Stanley Cohen)Italy and United StatesPhysiology or Medicine
1988Gertrude B. Elion (shared with James W. Black and George H. Hitchings)United StatesPhysiology or Medicine
1991Nadine GordimerSouth AfricaLiterature
1991Aung San Suu KyiBurmaPeace
1992Rigoberta MenchúGuatemalaPeace
1993Toni MorrisonUnited StatesLiterature
1995Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (shared with Edward B. Lewis and Eric F. Wieschaus)GermanyPhysiology or Medicine
1996Wisława SzymborskaPolandLiterature
1997Jody Williams (shared with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines)United StatesPeace
2003Shirin EbadiIranPeace
2004Elfriede JelinekAustriaLiterature
2004Wangari MaathaiKenyaPeace
2004Linda B. Buck (shared with Richard Axel)United StatesPhysiology or Medicine
2007Doris LessingUnited KingdomLiterature
2008Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (shared with Harald zur Hausen and Luc Montagnier)FrancePhysiology or Medicine
2009Elizabeth Blackburn (shared with Jack W. Szostak)Australia and United StatesPhysiology or Medicine
2009Carol W. Greider (shared with Jack W. Szostak)United States
2009Ada E. Yonath (shared with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz)IsraelChemistry
2009Herta MüllerGermany and RomaniaLiterature
2009Elinor Ostrom (shared with Oliver E. Williamson)United StatesEconomics
2011Ellen Johnson SirleafLiberiaPeace
2011Leymah GboweeLiberia
2011Tawakel KarmanYemen
2013Alice MunroCanadaLiterature
2014May-Britt Moser (shared with Edvard Moser and John O'Keefe)NorwayPhysiology or Medicine
2014Malala Yousafzai (shared with Kailash Satyarthi)PakistanPeace
2015Tu Youyou (shared with William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura)ChinaPhysiology or Medicine
2015Svetlana AlexievichBelarusLiterature
2018Donna StricklandCanadaPhysics
2018Nadia MuradIraqPeace

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