If major awards were a reliable indicator of gender capability, which in all likelihood they are not, one should concede that intellectual performance, very much like soccer playing, barbecuing or binge drinking, is a male's domain. Overall, males won a hefty 95% of all major awards, while women had to make do with a tiny 5% share. Women were distinguished only once with a Fields Medal for mathematics. Even in the more contemporary computer science, they won the Turing Award only three times, i.e. only 5% of the time.

If major awards were a reliable indicator of gender capability, which in all likelihood they are not, one should concede that intellectual performance, very much like soccer playing, barbecuing or binge drinking, is a male's domain. Overall, males won a hefty 95% of all major awards, while women had to make do with a tiny 5% share. Women were distinguished only once with a Fields Medal for mathematics. Even in the more contemporary computer science, they won the Turing Award only three times, i.e. only 5% of the time.

However, the indicator is heavily biased. In several cases, for instance in the computer science field, it is widely conceded that female scientists made decisive contributions that have been typically credited to their bosses, the more conspicuous male contributors. Only lately some female contributions have been acknowledged and recognized. Also some Nobel prizes have triggered harsh controversy for reasons of outright ignoring indispensable breakthroughs by female contributors — how many other female scientists remain ignored after having seen their output diverted by the team leader for his own profit and glory? The unbalanced split of the awards, rather than portraying the genuine talents of the genders, turns out to be a revealer of the workings of our society, namely of the process by which value judgments are produced in male dominated power structures. This should not come as a surprise, since, after all, male dominated assessment teams are liable to be more lenient towards males, as females would likely go easier on females, whites on whites, and so forth.

 

Major Awards 1901 - 2017
Breakdown by Award and by Gender

Award

Female

Male

Total

NumberPercentNumberPercent
Nobel Prize495.5%84794.5%896
Chemistry42.2%17497.8%178
Economics11.3%7898.7%79
Literature1412.3%10087.7%114
Peace ¹1615.4%8884.6%104
Physics21%20599%207
Physiology or Medicine125.6%20294.4%214
Fields Medal ²11.8%5598.2%56
Turing Award ³34.6%6295.4%65
Total awards535.2%96494.8%1,017
¹ The 26 Nobel Prizes for peace awarded to organizations are not accounted for in this table.
² The Fields Medal is awarded every four years, for the first time in 1936, for the last time in 2014.
³ The Turing award is announced at the beginning of the following year.

 

Sources: see Nobelprize, International Mathematical Union, ACM Awards

 

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