Dr. Ismael Mourifié, Assistant Professor in University of Toronto’s department of economics in the Faculty of Arts & Science has won the Polanyi Prize in Economic Science.
The Polanyi prize was created in honor of the achievement of John Charles Polanyi, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The Government of the Province of Ontario established the fund to provide annually up to five prizes to outstanding researchers in the early stages of their career who are continuing to post-doctoral studies or have recently started a faculty appointment at an Ontario university.
Each year, the Government of Ontario awards a prize of $20,000 to five young researchers who are carrying out exceptional work in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature and Economic Science.
Dr. Ismael Mourifié’s current research is focused on understanding why there aren’t more women studying STEM subjects and working in related professions.
Mourifié says there are essentially two competing theories. The first hinges on the idea that women in STEM – science, technology, engineering, mathematics – are underpaid relative to their male counterparts and therefore decide to pursue fields with less wage discrimination. The other suggests that women are steered away from STEM subjects at an early age because they’re socialized to think they belong elsewhere.
Given the different policy implications of these two theories, it is important to investigate which of the two is the dominant effect, or why it is that one dominates the other. His preliminary research results, Dr. Mourifié says, point to social factors as having the greatest influence on the gender gap in STEM. They also predict that many women not choosing STEM would, in fact, have benefitted more (in terms of labor outcomes, better careers, and higher income) if they had entered a STEM career.
Now, he is aiming to have a better understanding of those non-monetary external factors that prevent STEM-minded women from choosing STEM-related fields in which they have a better chance to succeed. Dr. Mourifié, a native of Ivory Coast who came to Canada in 2008, also intends to focus similar research on minority groups and financially constrained students.
Other winners are:
Dr. Sarah Svenningsen, CIHR and CRNN Post-Doctoral Fellow at McMaster University and Robarts Research Institute at Western University, Sarah Svenningsen received the Polanyi Prize in Physiology/Medicine.
Dr. Areti Angeliki Veroniki, Postdoctoral Fellow, Li Ka-Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, Veroniki won the Polanyi Prize in Physiology/Medicine.
Dr. Mathieu Lavallée-Adam won the Polanyi Prize in Chemistry. Lavallée-Adam is an Assistant Professor in the University of Ottawa’s Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology.
Dr. Vinh Nguyen, Assistant Professor, Diaspora Literatures and East Asian Studies, Renison University College, University of Waterloo, Nguyen won the Polanyi Prize in Literature.