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Economist studying workplace gender gap wins Nobel prize

The Nobel economics prize was awarded Monday to Claudia Goldin, a professor at Harvard University, for advancing the understanding of the gender gap in the labour market.

Harvard's Claudia Goldin studied changing role of working women over time

The winner of the Nobel prize in economics is shown on a screen.

The Nobel economics prize was awarded Monday to Claudia Goldin, a professor at Harvard University, for advancing the understanding of the gender gap in the labour market.

Goldin is only the third woman to win the prize, which was announced by Hans Ellegren, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in Stockholm.

"Understanding women's role in the labour market is important for society. Thanks to Claudia Goldin's groundbreaking research, we now know much more about the underlying factors and which barriers may need to be addressed in the future," said Jakob Svensson, chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences.

Goldin does not offer solutions, but her research allows policymakers to tackle the entrenched problem, said Randi Hjalmarsson, a member of the prize committee.

No single workplace policy

"She explains the source of the gap, and how it's changed over time and how it varies with the stage of development. And therefore, there is no single policy," Hjalmarsson said. "So it's a complicated policy question because if you don't know the underlying reason, a certain policy won't work."

However, "by finally understanding the problem and calling it by the right name, we will be able to pave a better out forward," said Hjalmarsson, who added that Goldin's discoveries have "vast societal implications."

Of receiving the award, Goldin, 77, "was surprised and very, very glad," Ellegren said.

It follows the awards in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace that were announced last week.

The economics award was created in 1968 by Sweden's central bank and is formally known as the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

Last year's winners were former U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, Douglas W. Diamond and Philip Dybvig for their research into bank failures that helped shape America's aggressive response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

Only two of the 92 economics laureates honoured have been women.

A week ago, Hungarian-American Katalin Kariko and American Drew Weissman won the Nobel Prize in medicine. The physics prize went Tuesday to French-Swedish physicist Anne L'Huillier, French scientist Pierre Agostini and Hungarian-born Ferenc Krausz.

U.S. scientists Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus and Alexei Ekimov won the chemistry prize on Wednesday. They were followed by Norwegian writer Jon Fosse, who was awarded the prize for literature. And on Friday, jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi won the peace prize.

The prizes are handed out at awards ceremonies in December in Oslo and Stockholm. They carry a cash award of 11 million Swedish kronor (about $1.38 million Cdn). Winners also receive an 18-carat gold medal and diploma.

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