Brilliant women unjustly denied of the Nobel Prize

Updated: Jan 29

An uncountable amount of women have been deserving of the Nobel prize, but unjustly denied it. A few of these women, particularly in the field of physics are Cecilia Payne, Chien-Shiung Wu, Vera Rubin, Lise Meitner and Jocelyn Bell-Burnell.

Lise Meitner, discovered Nuclear fission. She was a collaborator with Otto Hahn who unjustly awarded the Nobel prize all to himself in 1944, even though Lisa Meitner arguably contributed the most to the project, splitting the atom. At the sam time, she had to endure the injustice of working as a Jew in Nazi germany in the 1930’s. Even after fleeing Germany in 1938, she continued helping Hahn and guiding him through the critical steps of nuclear fission even though Hahn never included her as a coauthor. Even Neils Bohr himself nominated Meitner first and Hahn second for the Nobel prize and yet Hahn won it alone. Upon Meitners death, this was written on her tombstone:

“Lise Meitner: a physicist who never lost her humanity.”

Vera Rubin, co-discovered Dark Matter in galaxies with Kent Ford by analyzing the individual galaxies rotation. This showed that there was more gravitation then normal matter could account for. This, the upbringing of Dark Matter.

Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, discovered the first pulsar. A Nobel prize was awarded for this in 1974 to Martin Ryle and Anthony Hewish. But it was actually Hewish student, Jocelyn Bell who discovered the pulsar. Her discovery exceptional and yet she was omitted from the Nobel prize.

Chien-Shiung Wu, discovered the property of “handedness” of particles in the Universe. She observed the radioactive decay of Cobalt-60 with a present magnetic field. As the decay product, electrons, exhibited a preferred direction, she proved that particles have an intrinsic handedness, violating the parity symmetry. This discovery went to Lee and Yang in 1957 and Will was unjustly removed.

Cecilia Payne, discovered what stars are made of. She synthesized her idea by putting temperature, color and ionization together and according to the strengths of the lines formed she found that stars had thousands of times as much helium and millions of times of hydrogen. Because of her, we know today that as stars exhibits different spectral features that depend on the color of the star in order to determine the stars surface temperature and compositions.

There are many who will claim that none of these women deserve the prize. Keep in mind that a long list of male students won the Nobel prize, but when it came to female students, arguments such as “A Nobel prize cannot go to someone who hasn’t paid their dues or only acted upon the decisions of their advisors” were used to unjustly remove them from the prize. Female such as Payne and Bell-burner as well as Strickland were students working on their own without any other role players, especially Payne.

In summary, their is no concrete evidence of women being inherently inferior to men, but their is factual evidence in history and even now or misogyny, sexism and institutional bias, all hindering women from excelling in their careers. These brilliant women were forgotten by the Nobel committee. Looking back, strongly demonstrated how valuable and yet undervalued women in sciences have been.


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