Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Progress can be slow.

Congratulations to Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson, the winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics for their work in institutional economics. Paul Krugman, the 2008 winner, wrote a short piece on his New York Times blog explaining what they did to get the prize.

Ostrom is the first woman to pick up the Nobel for economics. In the previous 40 years of awards, it was 62 guys and no gals. Nice to see the shutout streak ended.

There is no Nobel Prize in mathematics. The Fields Medal is the most prestigious award in math, nowhere even close to as famous as the Nobel. The Fields Medal is awarded every four years with two to four people winnning the prize, each getting about $20,000. In comparison, Ostrom and Williamson will split about $1,4000,000.

The Fields Medal has been around longer than the Nobel for economics, but because it's handed out every four years instead of every year, only 48 people have won the award. So far, it's an all male club. The next ones will be awarded in 2010.

There were a lot more women in math when I was getting my master's degree earlier this decade than there were when I was getting my bachelor's degree back in the 1970's. Here's hoping this change in the general population means there will be a female Fields medalist soon.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Congratulations to both.