As a visible minority (non-european) female post-doc with a B.Sc., two M.Sc. and one Ph.D. and 2 post-docs in physical and chemistry sciences, I have been told many times that I am a bright scientist and always have been encouraged by school officials, my supervisory profs and my family to pursue deeper in science and one day I might come across something good enough to be awarded a Nobel prize, the ultimate trophy in human intellect. I'd always secretly dreamt that this can happen to me and one day the Swedish academy of science will honour me such a trophy.
But now close to end of my 30's and after publishing several peered reviewed papers, I have come to this realization that I do not have the right ingredients, intellect, genes and brain power to win this prize and that all of these years I was living in a dream.
Statistically speaking, the chance of me winning twice a multi hundred million dollars/pounds lottery is much much greater than winning a nobel prize in my field of research. There is no secret calculations: out of rough 10 billion living people who lived in 20th and early 21st century only 5 female won the physics and chemistry prizes, almost less than 5 were from non-european origin. This gives me chance of 1 in few tens of billions chance of winning, also considering the fact that a great portion (close to 30%) of winers in sciences are from american Ashkenazi jewish background (this year 2013; 6 out of 7 or 85% are Jewish), the chance of me winning the prize is probably 1 in few hundred billions whereas chance of me winning a high-end multi hundred million dollar lottery is few in tens of millions! Is nobel prize is truly a good representative of human intellect or like anything else in our modern time is become (or have been) a political tool and biased towards certain established mainstreams?
thank you for posting to the Forum :-)
I admire all you have done so far!!! Very impressive indeed. While you have all the knowledge, education and experience, I wonder why you dream of winning the Nobel prize :-)
The human intellect is NOT represented by the Nobel prize. If we want to do something good for humanity, we don't need to be acknowledged by the award of a Nobel price or title. In fact, if we can make a difference in someone's life (say 1 out of 200000 people), that is already good work done.
Thanks for a very interesting post. You should definitely think about taking this up with your government's Minister for Women and Equality. In the UK this person is Maria Miller https://www.gov.uk/government/ministers/minister-for-women-and-equalities--2
Governments in other countries have their own version of this role. Or you could contact UN Women, the women's rights branch of the United Nations http://www.unwomen.org/
Please post again and tell us how things went.
Thanks Satchi and metabanalysis for the positive reply! I admire your positiveness and encourage.
I've just found out that the BBC also has a "winning formula" for successes for winning this prize which can be found in the attached link.
I get their joke but the funny part is that the BBC did miss ethnicity and cultural/heritage background in their formula which has statistically more impact on your chance of winning the Nobel prize than anything else. But even according to them having a bready face has more impact on impressing the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to increase your chance of winning the Nobel prize (and also the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel) than you being female or your ethnicity! I guess BBC once again wanted to be politically correct than anything else! :)
Better go get my lottery ticket than spending my life (will be 40 soon) in below-povery line threshold postdoc jobs hoping one day I come across something new and I'd be recognized (I even will be happy just to get a assistance professorship position in a 300+ ranked university in my mid 40s!)
The idea that you are intellectually and genetically inferior to win the Nobel is ludicrous: for starts the Nobel prizes are VERY OVER-RATED in my view. There is so much politics involved in the award of these trophies that it is non-sensical. I know many people in my field who deserve it not only for their intelligence and originality but their passion for their subject. However, they are glanced over for many reasons: controversial views, not publishing in the right journals, not having the right connections, etc...
Impressed by your record and do not despair: you may not win the Nobel prize (realistically the chances of any of us doing so is slim) but I'm confident that my IQ as well as many others here is in the top 1% of the population, and that's what matters. Plus there's more to life than just PhD and academia: I'm passionate about it but not to the point where it blinds me from my other interests.
As for the fact that Jews are over-represented, while I admire them for generally valuing education more than most people, I wouldn't say my Jewish friends are smarter or dumber than anyone else. Politics once again: if someone has the right connections they'll go somewhere irrespective of whether their PhD is from Oxbridge or Harvard, whether they have 1 or 5 postdocs, etc...
This may cheer u up but the Nobel prize is financially less worthy than winning X-Factor UK; so there you go :p
@ Dr Strangelove True, even among my relatives and friends only few females passed the high school threshold so I should be happy:) they are females what do you expect? eh? ... but it is fascinating that it seems that you should belong to certain trademarks to win the prize (i.e. Chicago school of economics or have Jewish blood for sciences).
Mr Don't_Run_On_Time, I am sure you have misunderstood our friend KimWipes. She was merely pointing-out that she doesn't fit into the most probable demographic that prize winners share, further reducing her chances of ever receiving the award in spite of her scientific prowess. Whilst I, as a mere mortal, gaze in wonder at the godlike beings that have gained Nobel status, can we just take stock for a moment that Nobel was the bloke who invented dynamite and was the producer of armaments that were used (ok, by others) for less than peaceful means? Is it really a prize that we should be revering as we do? I would like to know what percentage of the human race gets awarded a PhD, an achievement that one is in much more control of than ever getting the Nobel Prize.
What I was trying to say is that if we take the list of Nobel Prize laureates as a sample of the scientific community (read it as the population) and then we look at the demographic characteristics that make up the composition of the winners sample, it appears that certain groups are extremely overrepresented and some are extremely underrepresented (Assuming a normal distribution for the demographics of the winners). For instance, in my fields of research (physics and chemistry) although for the last 30-40 years, the female population makes up close to the half of PhD holders, less than two percent of Nobel laureates are female. Same extreme underrepresentation applies to ethnics groups (i.e. Asian, African, South Asian and Latinos and Southern European countries, even the ethnic individuals born and raised in the Nobel-Prize- producing countries). Interestingly enough over fifty percent of PhD degrees awarded from the US and UK universities after the WWII have gone to these groups. On the other hand, some groups receive this prize more often than the others. For instance, although Jewish people comprise less than 0.2% of the world's population, they have received over 30% of all Nobel prized awarded – a mere factor of 150 times more than their population- (note that this year 6 out of 7 sciences awards have gone to Jewish scientists). I do not know whether this is an overrepresentation of not, but clearly there is an extremely significant asymmetry in demographic of Nobel Prize laureates. (to be continued...)
We also can assume that this asymmetry is completely accidental knowing the probability for having such huge skewness is extremely low (imagine that 30% of lottery winners every week come from a small village that compromise 0.2% of population of a small country or imagine 30% of all Nobel prize winners in the world come from Guatemala, what is the probability?)
Or we can assume that there is a real reason behind the asymmetric skewness. The cause for skewness in a distribution can be either (1) inherent/intrinsic or (2) bias.
(1) In case if inherent/intrinsic skewness, this means that the winner groups should have a greater scientific success to allow them to win more often. This could be inheriting an extremely higher IQ (genetic cause) among them that allow them to win extremely more often (x 150 times more than average population), or better selected educational environment or any other unknown factor for now. Or maybe this is just better “networking-cause” that allows certain groups wins much more often. The opposite argument can be applied against group that are underrepresented (i.e. for women). Women PhD holders can be less creative or original thinker (or possibly lower IQ???), or they can have occupied less Nobel-producing jobs which could have allowed them to have better chance to achieve an original work.
(2) In case of Nobel prize being bias towards certain groups, that something that goes against the will of Alfred Nobel and this makes the Prize worthless.
There is also an existential possibility that Nobel Prize has become irrelevant to the science progress and has become a celebrity award given each year to the first 3 persons (usually Caucasian men and one of them Jewish) whose work match certain defined criteria and group-thinking agenda of a group of self-selected elites members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and totally irrelevant to the real world scientific work. And in this case why it should be advertised and treated as the apex of human intellect among the scientific communities?
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