After another year of Nobel Prizes being dominated by white men, the head of the academy that awards the prizes has rejected suggestions of quotas based on gender and ethnicity, saying that prizes must go to "those most worthy"
Göran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science and vice chairman of the board of directors for the Nobel Foundation, told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday that the organization "will not have quotas for gender or ethnicity."
"We want every laureate [to] be accepted ... because they made the most important discovery and not because of gender or ethnicity. And that is in line with the spirit of Alfred Nobel’s last will," he said.
Yet Hansson expressed disappointment that there are "so few women Nobel laureates" and said society needs to help cultivate women in sciences.
"It reflects the unfair conditions in society, particularly in years past but still existing. And there’s so much more to do," he said.
"We will make sure that we have an increasing portion of women scientists being invited to nominate. And we will continue to make sure we have women on our committees, but we need help, and society needs to help here," Hansson added.
“We need different attitudes to women going into sciences, to the career structure to encourage women scientists and to make sure they have fair opportunities so that they have a career in sciences and they can make these discoveries that are being awarded,” he said.
VIDEO: "It is sad that there are so few women Nobel laureates" says Göran K. Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish academy of sciences, after only one woman, Maria Ressa, was awarded a Nobel Prize this year pic.twitter.com/rZ5mqQmuXx— AFP News Agency (@AFP) October 12, 2021
Hansson added that he fears that if, for example, his organization decided to give prizes to only women one year, laureates would be awarded "because they are women and not because they are the best."
Last week, UN Women criticized the organization on Twitter, saying that since its establishment in 1895, the Nobel Prize has been "awarded to less than 60 women."
"Unfortunately, the underrepresentation of women Nobel laureates over the years is just another indicator of the slow progress on gender equality," the statement added.
Investigative journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines was the only woman honored this year. She shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.