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Nobels Try to Diversify

Women represent only a small portion of researchers who have won the Nobel Prize over the years, but Nature News reports that the prize committee has made changes to encourage more women to be nominated.

Last year, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences prize committee, which awards the prizes in chemistry, physics and economics, said it would, for this year's awards, ask nominators to consider gender, geography, and topic diversity. Prior to that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences prize committee and the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, which awards the physiology or medicine prize, have also increased the number of women who are eligible to nominate individuals for a Nobel.

Göran Hansson, the secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, tells Nature News that these policy shifts appear to have led to more women being nominated, though he cautions that they need to see more data from the next few years to see if the trend holds. Hansson adds that they are also working to increase diversity in ethnicity and have also seen a boost of nominations of people from East Asia.

"The most important changes must take place in schools and universities: women must be encouraged to study sciences and be given equal opportunities throughout their careers in academia," he adds. "Within ethnicity, we hope that more countries around the world will build up their science."

So far this week, the winners of the physiology or medicine and physics prizes have been announced, all of whom are men.