This year’s Nobel prize in Physics was awarded to American scientist Arthur Ashkin, French engineer Gerard Mourou and Canadian professor Donna Strickland.
Strickland is the third female laureate to have bagged the prize in physics, after Maria Goeppert-Mayer and Marie Curie. Strickland ‘paved the way’ for the most intense laser beams ever created by humans via a technique that stretches and then amplifies the light beam. She is a Canadian scientist at the University of Waterloo and winning the prize nearly after 55 years ended the dry spell for women winning the prestigious laurel.
But her win also highlighted serious issues around the inclusion of women in Science. Wikipedia had earlier denied creating a page for her because “she had not received enough coverage”. Though Dr Strickland leads a research group, she remains an associate professor & not a full professor. Strickland’s win came after a male professor, during a seminar on gender issues in physics, said “physics was invented and built by men”. Only 49 women have ever won the Nobel prize as compared to around 900 men.
Strickland was born in Guelph, Ontario and is a Canadian national. She graduated with an Engineering degree in Engineering physics from McCaster University in 1981 and then obtained her PhD in Physics from the University of Rochester in New York in 1989.