This study examines gender disparities in the world’s 141 most prestigious international research awards. The study finds that: (a) from 2001 to 2020 these awards were received 3,445 times by 2,011 men and 262 women; (b) women’s share increased from an annual average of 6% during 2001–2005 to an annual average of 19% during 2016–2020; (c) 49 of the 141 awards were not received by women during 2016–2020; and (d) when the numbers of women full professors are taken into consideration, the gender gap remains highly disproportionate in biological and life sciences, computer science, and mathematics. Overall, women would be expected to increase their share of awards by nearly 50% to achieve parity with men today. The study shows great similarities between men and women award recipients in journal articles per author, the average number of authors per article, the proportion of articles in top journals, citations per article, and participation in large research groups and international collaborations. The study concludes that the gender gap in highly prestigious research awards is largely a result of demographic inertia and other factors that deserve further investigation.

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