Winning laurels

Alladi kuppuswami

Winning laurels

Rita Levi Montalcini was awarded the Nobel in Medicine jointly with her partner Stanley Cohen in 1986 for the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF). Gertrude B. Elion, a biochemist, was awarded the Prize in 1988 alongwith Sir James Black and George Hutchings for the development of drugs used to cure several major diseases. Barbara McClintock was awarded the Nobel prize in medicine in 1983 for one of the greatest discoveries in medicine next to DNA, viz., the discovery of mobile genetic elements of "jumping genes". She was the first woman to be the sole winner of the award.

Christiane Nusslein-Volhard received the Nobel in 1995 for Medicine

Bertha von Suttner was awarded the Peace prize in 1905 for influencing Alfred Nobel in the establishment of the Nobel Prize for Peace. Jane Addams and Nicholas Murray Butler were awarded the Peace Prize in 1931.

Emily Greene Balch was awarded the Peace prize in 1946 jointly with John Raleigh Mott. Betty Williams was awarded the Prize along with her. Jody Williams was awarded the Peace prize for her efforts to ban production and deployment of landmines.

In 1979, Mother Teresa who founded the Order of Missionaries of Charity received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Alva Myrdal, a Swedish diplomat, was awarded the Peace prize in 1982 along with Alfonso Robie for her advocacy of nuclear disarmament. Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Peace prize in 1991.

Rigoberta Menchu, the Guatamalan Indian Rights activtist was awarded the peace prize in 1992. Sigrid Undset , the Norwegian novelist, was awarded the Nobel for Literature in 1928.

Pearl Buck was awarded the prize for literature in 1938 for her trilogy, The Good Earth, Sons and A House Divided, published as House of Earth. Gabriela Mistral was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for literature.

Nelly Sachs, was awarded the Prize for Literature in 1966. In 1991 the prize for literature was awarded to Nadine Gordimer, a novelist and short story writer.

The African American woman novelist, Toni Morrison received the Nobel prize for literature in 1993.

Why is it that the number of women Nobel Laureates especially in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine are so few? Women faced many obstacles - having to work in the Universities, with no pay until the 1950s. Montalcini's father prevented her from studying until she was 20. She was forced to do her research in her bedroom hidden from the Nazis. McClintock had to quit science for a time as she could not get a university job.

Marie Curie's husband, Pierre, was a great help to her. Cori's husband, Carl, who was a professor in Buffalo, helped his wife to get a position as an Assistant Patholgoist.

If such were the obstacles women faced in Europe and in the U.S., then women in India could have only fared worse. Here women have been denied even the fundamental right to education until recently.


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