Maybe the giant ramp up in women winning this year's Nobel Prize selections is a fluke, but I sure hope not. Of the 13 winners this year, 5 are women. Last year? There was 1. I went crawling through Wikipedia and found that in the past, there are only 3 other years EVER in which more than one woman received a Nobel Prize of any kind.
2 in 1976 (shared the Peace Prize)
2 in 1991 (Lit/Peace)
3 in 2004 (Lit/Peace/Medicine)
Seriously. Whereas this year:
5 in 2009 (Chem/Econ/Lit/Medicine x2)
- first woman to win an Economics prize
- first woman in 45 years to win Chemistry, and 4th ever (2 were Curies)
I'd like to think it's because the Nobel committee has finally started recognizing more recent achievements, ones that occurred after women began to infiltrate the sciences. The last woman to win Chemistry was Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin in 1964, but for other two you have to go back to 1911 and 1935 for Marie Curie and her daughter Irene. Physics will be a tough category to crack, since the "harder" the hard science, the longer it takes women to infiltrate the ranks. So far there have been two - one in 1963, and Marie Curie again (yes, she won two).
Progress is our most important product?