On Nobel committees, women are in short supply

Marie Curie, Mother Teresa and Malala are among the just five percent of women Nobel laureates. But women are also heavily underrepresented in the institutions that select the prizewinners each year.

The Nobels for medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics are all awarded in Sweden by separate committees, while the peace prize laureate is selected by a committee in Norway.

Both Scandinavian countries pride themselves on their reputations as champions of gender equality — yet on the Nobel committees, women make up only a quarter of members.

With the exception of the peace prize committee, all are also currently headed by men.

Would more women on the committees make a difference in the number of women laureates?

For Olav Njolstad, secretary of the peace committee in Oslo, the answer is: probably.

Since 2001, 24 women have won Nobel prizes, compared to 11 in the two decades leading up to 2000.

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