File photo courtesy: Adam Baker/Flickr

Inside Science has taken public-domain images of more than 500 Nobel Laureates and blended them to create the “average” face of a Nobel recipient in STEM fields.

“It is perhaps no surprise that all three of our average faces look male, middle-aged and white since those are arguably the top three visible features shared by the laureates,” Inside Science writes.

The fictional face was generated using smoishele, a free app that detects facial features and overlays them.

The article references, and is reminiscent of, a 2012 report by the BBC. In it, statistics about past Nobel Laureates were analyzed. Based on that, BBC said the most probable winner would be a 61-year-old, single, clean-shaven American male from Harvard who doesn’t wear glasses.

No female winners in STEM this year

Earlier this week a gender and diversity debate was sparked when the 2019 Nobel Prize winners in physics, chemistry, physiology and medicine were all awarded to men.

Over the past 118 years only 20 women have been awarded a Nobel Prize in STEM fields, according to an analysis by UN Women which showed the lack of diversity in a now-viral tweet.

‘More women are being nominated’

Ahead of the Nobel award announcement Göran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, spoke to Nature about “tweaks” the academy made to its nomination procedure to allow for a more diverse pool of winners.

New initiatives include asking more women to nominate candidates and revising the wording of the call for nominations letter, asking people to consider gender, geography, and topic diversity. 

Hansson told Nature he sees a “positive trend” with “more women being nominated” but concedes the shift appears to presently be small.

He says it looks like the academy is on “the right track” but it could be some time before there’s any significant change.

Revisions to the wording of the letter and increasing the proportion of women among nominators did not have any significant impact this year, Hansson says, adding the academy is prepared to do more to encourage diversity if time proves the current initiatives are unsuccessful.