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Female Nobel Prize Winners in Chemistry

Women who changed the world

Women contributing their innovative ideas has strengthened the knowledge held in the scientific world. It is important to realise that women in STEM need to be celebrated all year round – they need to be given the recognition they deserve. A total of 60 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2022.


Specifically looking at the Female Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry – all of whom have changed the way society views women but also puts a spotlight on the progress that can still be made if we have more women in the field of STEM. There have been eight women to receive this prestigious award: Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer A. Doudna, Frances H. Arnold, Ada E., Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Yonath, Irène Joliot-Curie and Marie Curie.


This article celebrates their ground-breaking discoveries and contributions to the world of science and is a way to serve as an inspiration to young girls and women in the hope to raise a generation where more women are studying STEM subjects and acquiring high-ranked roles to reduce the gender gap.

Nobel Prizes won in-

2022: Carolyn R. Bertozzi was awarded for her development of biorthogonal reactions which has allowed scientists to explore and track biological processes without disrupting the chemistry of the original cells.

2020: Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded for their development of a method for high-precision genome editing: CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. They used the immune system of a bacterium, which disables viruses by cutting their DNA up with a type of genetic scissors. The CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors has led to many exciting discoveries and new ways to fight against cancer and genetic diseases.

2018: Frances Arnold was awarded because of her work on directed evolution of enzymes. In 1993, Arnold conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyse chemical reactions. This has led to the manufacturing of environmentally friendly chemical substances such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels.

2009: Ada Yonath was awarded the Nobel Prize for her studies on the structure and functions of the ribosome. In the 1970s, Ada began a project that concluded in her successful mapping of the structure of ribosomes, which consisted of thousands of atoms, using x-ray crystallography. This has been important in the production of antibiotics.

1964: Dorothy Hodgkin was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for solving the atomic structure of molecules such as penicillin and insulin, using X-ray crystallography.

1935: Irène Joliot-Curie was awarded for her discovery that radioactive atoms could be created artificially.

By Khushleen Kaur

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