It’s an award that puts even the Oscars in the shade. 109 years ago the Nobel Prize, the ultimate accolade, was created. Awarded for outstanding contributions in physics, chemistry, literature, peace and medicine, women have triumphed their way to a trophy 41 times. Here are ten of the best and brightest
Years: 1903 and 1911
Category: Physics and Chemistry
The first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize and the only woman to win it twice, Marie Curie was a true pioneer. Working in the field of radioactivity she helped create the X-ray, and drove ambulances with key equipment in the front lines of WW1.
The first female Brit to be awarded the Nobel Prize, Dorothy Hodgkin was recognised for "her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances", most notably her discovery of the structure of vitamin B12.
Founder of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement (later renamed Community of Peace People), Betty Williams became a Nobel laureate in 1976 following her peace work after witnessing three children killed after being hit by a car driven by an IRA fugitive who had been fatally shot by police. Williams, together with fellow Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan, organised a petition and peace march before founding the Peace People.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 following her work founding the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. After founding the Missionaries in 1950, she spent the rest of her life looking after the poor, sick, orphaned and dying as well as guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion throughout India and other countries.
The American author of classic tomes such as Beloved and Song of Solomon was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature less than ten years ago for the "visionary force and poetic import" in her novels and her knack of "[giving] life to an essential aspect of American reality".
The Austrian playwright and novelist was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004 for "her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power".
Kenya's Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004 for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace". She was an elected member of the Kenyan Parliament and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources between January 2003 and November 2005.
The British writer won the Nobel Prize in 2007 for successfully depicting the female experience in works including her novels The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook.
The Romanian-born German novelist, poet and essayist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2009 for her works depicting the effects of violence, cruelty and terror in Communist Romania.
The American economist was awarded the The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences (recognised by the Nobel Prize) last year "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons", making her the first female winner of the prestigious prize. She shared the prize with fellow economist Oliver E Williamson.