Quotas aren't solution to Nobel Prize gender gap, leader says 

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The Nobel Prizes have an issue with gender, with only 58 women ever being awarded the honor compared to 876 men. The head of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has ruled out using quotas to address the inequality, The Washington Post reported Oct. 12. 

Goran Hansson, MD, PhD, the head of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said that while there is a gender imbalance in the awards, quotas are not the way to address it. The idea was rejected because "it would be, we fear, considered that those laureates got the prize because they are women, not because they are the best," said Dr. Hansson.

Alfred Nobel laid out the terms for award selection in his will, stating that the committee should not consider nationality when selecting awardees. Instead, the committee has taken steps to address subconscious bias and has been sure to acknowledge the problem, according to Dr. Hansson. 

He argues that a broader, cultural shift is needed to get more women into sciences to close the gender gap in the awards. "Only about 10 percent of the professors in natural sciences in Western Europe or North America are women, and even lower if you go to East Asia," Dr. Hansson said. "We need different attitudes to women going into sciences so that they get a chance to make these discoveries that are being awarded."

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