Category: chien-shiung wu

This One Award Was The Biggest Injustice In Nobel Prize History

“Every October, the Nobel foundation awards prizes celebrating the greatest advances in numerous scientific fields. With a maximum of three winners per prize, many of history’s most deserving candidates have gone unrewarded. However, the greatest injustices occurred when the scientists behind the most worthy contributions were snubbed.”

Imagine this scenario: you work hard all your life investigating some aspect of reality with as much scientific rigor as anyone ever has. You make a great breakthrough working on a very hard problem, and you push your scientific field forward in a novel, important, and unprecedented way. And then, when the time comes to evaluate the quality and impact of your work, it’s chosen as being Nobel-worthy. 

Only, when they announce the winners of the Nobel Prize, your name isn’t called at all. Instead, other scientists are awarded the prize, while both your name and your decisive work are omitted from every aspect of the award. Sounds like a pretty big injustice, yes? 

Well, it’s happened to many people over the years, including Chien-Shiung Wu in perhaps the greatest injustice of them all. Come get the full story on the eve of the 2019 Nobel Prize in physics being awarded!

These 5 Women Deserved, And Were Unjustly Denied, A Nobel Prize In Physics

“The fact of the matter is that there is no concrete evidence that women are in any way inherently inferior to men when it comes to work in any of the sciences or any of their sub-fields. But there is overwhelming evidence for misogyny, sexism, and institutional bias that hinders their careers and fails to recognize them for their outstanding achievements. When you think of the Nobel Laureates in Physics and wonder why there are so few women, make sure you remember Cecilia Payne, Chien-Shiung Wu, Vera Rubin, Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, and Lise Meitner. The Nobel committee may have forgotten or overlooked their contributions until it was too late, but that doesn’t mean we have to. In all the sciences, we want the best, brightest, most capable, and hardest workers this world has to offer. Looking back on history with accurate eyes only serves to demonstrate how valuable, and yet undervalued, women in science have been.”

In most intellectual lines of work, if you claimed that a certain type of person wasn’t mentally capable of doing as good a job as another, you’d be rightfully called a bigot. Yet somehow, in a myriad of the sciences (such as physics), there are those who simultaneously claim that “women are inferior to men” alongside the claim that it isn’t sexist or bigoted to say so.

But what there is a long history of, in physics, is women being denied their due credit for discoveries and advances that they were an integral part of. Even in the aftermath of last week’s events, when physicist Donna Strickland became just the third woman ever to be awarded a Nobel Prize, many have claimed that she isn’t worthy, for reasons that have never been applied to men.

Well, meet five women you might not be aware of who certainly earned a Nobel Prize, even if they were never awarded one. We cannot rewrite history, but we can right the legacy of its wrongs in our public consciousness.