Françoise Barré-Sinoussi Elizabeth Blackburn Steven Chu Ada E. Yonath about women in science

Four Nobel Laureates speak on women in science

More women are expected to reach a higher level of the scientific career ladder than before

Sometimes inappropriate remarks about women in science provide a good opportunity to reflect on such issues. This was the case with the now infamous words uttered by Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt during the World Conference on Science Journalists in Seoul on 8 June 2015. His words offended much of his audience and stirred a twitter storm in the following weeks and months. There were even humorous initiatives such as the #distractinglysexy Twitter campaign.

Euroscientist followed up on this controversy at the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in 2015. Even though Tim Hunt decided not to attend, the issue he raised was being discussed in the corridors.

Women in science is still a topical issue. And the fact that only three out of 65 Laureates were females speaks for itself. We collected some of the opinions by distinguished participants. Biochemist Elizabeth Blackburn believes that “when people as a group are object of prejudice, such things are damaging.”

Physicist Steven Chu, being “selfish”, as he says, thinks that “if a profession is not attractive to half of the population, this is not good for my field.”

Virologist Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is convinced that things are getting better and that the number of female Nobel Laureates is growing.

Finally, christallographer Ada Yonath denounces the stigmatisation of the profession: “Society is still not encouraging females to go to science,” she argues.

Listen to the full podcast here:

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