AP -- This year a record five women were honored by the Nobel committees. In total, only 40 women have won the prestigious prizes, including Marie Curie who took the 1903 physics prize and the 1911 chemistry prize.
The 2009 winners include:
_ Elinor Ostrom, 76, who made history by being the first woman to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, sharing it with fellow American Oliver Williamson for their work in economic governance.
In this image provided by Indiana University on October 12, 2009, Indiana University professor Elinor Ostrom is pictured. Ostrom was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences October 12 along with Oliver Williamson, a professor from University of California Berkeley. She is the the first female to win the economic prize since its creation in 1968.
University of California San Francisco scientist Elizabeth Blackburn speaks during a news conference after winning the Nobel Prize in Medicine October 5, 2009 in San Francisco, California. Blackburn shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for their discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.
2009 Nobel Laureate in Medicine Carol Greider discusses winning her award during a press conference at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland on October 5, 2009. Australian-American researcher Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider and Jack Szostak of the United States won the Nobel Medicine Prize on Monday for identifying a key switch in cellular aging.
Israeli scientist Ada Yonath, a leading researcher in the structural biology field, attends a press conference after she was awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry by the Nobel committee in Stockholm, at the Weizmann Institute on October 7, 2009 in Rechovot, Israel. Yonath shares the prize with Britain's Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz, an American, for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.
German writer Herta Mueller gestures during a press conference on October 8, 2009 in Berlin, Germany. Romanian-born German writer Herta Mueller won the 2009 Nobel Prize in literature Thursday, honored for work that 'with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed,' the Swedish Academy said.
_ Elizabeth H. Blackburn, 60, and Carol W. Greider, 48, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Jack W. Szostak for their work in solving the mystery of how chromosomes protect themselves from degrading when cells divide. Greider is American and Blackburn has dual U.S.-Australian citizenship.
_ Ada Yonath, 70, of Israel, who shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Americans Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz for their atom-by-atom description of ribosomes.
_ Herta Mueller, 56, a Romanian-born German writer who won the literature prize for her critical depiction of life behind the Iron Curtain.
Other women who have won Nobel Prizes include literature winners Toni Morrison and Doris Lessing and peace prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, a democracy activist in Myanmar, and Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi.
Source: Nobel Foundation.