Andrea Ghez Wins Nobel Peace Prize for Discovering Black Hole in the Milky Way

Andrea Ghez, an astronomer and professor at UCLA, received the Nobel Peace Prize in the beginning of October for discovering a massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Along with Reinherd Genzel, a member of Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and UC Berkeley, they were able to prove that Einstein’s theory of relativity is sound for now.

In 1995, Ghez published an essay titled “You Can Be a Woman Astronomer,” where she encouraged young women everywhere to kindle their passions and understand their potential. While science and technology progress everyday and charter into unknown places like black holes, women in STEM are still left in the background. According to the National Girls Collective Project of 2018, only 28% of people working in STEM related fields are womxn as opposed to 72% being men. Fewer than 4% of early career doctorate holders of STEM related fields identify as Black, Latina, or part of an underrepresented race or ethnicity in science and engineering.

It is important to celebrate the work and the person that is Andrea Ghez as she serves as a needed reminder that first there must be more women in STEM, and second, we must also uplift the achievements of these womxn as well. 

Due to the fact that males make up a majority of higher education and the labor force in STEM related fields, womxn often feel as though they cannot take up too much space within that atmosphere. Factor in the intersectionalities of identity, like being a Black womxn, could increase this response in one’s educational and career endeavors.

Twenty-five years ago, Ghez walked into the office of Hilton Lewis, the director of the Heck Observatory, as a new astronomer. and demanded that they change their software to prove the existence of a massive black hole in the middle of our galaxy. With this mindset to risk it all for the sake of knowledge and our future, now Andrea Ghez stands before the world in 2020 as a Nobel Peace Prize winner. 

Before Andrea Ghez comes an unmatched group of womxn who have received the Nobel Peace Prize. The great Toni Morrison won the award in 1993 for her poetic visionary force that painted the real experiences of Black people in the United States. Nadia Murad received the award in 2018, after suffering through the war tactilization of sexual violence in Iraq, specifically against the ethnic Yazidi minority to which she belongs to. 

There are countless forces working against women simultaneously, and it is not our fault that these forces infiltrate our passion, self-esteem and our goals in life. Lewis describes Ghez as a "force of nature," and the same goes for womxn everywhere. To achieve this exceptional discovery, Ghez took a calculated risk, which is something we as womxn should do more often. 

Check out the amazing work that Ghez and her team worked through along with the rest of the pioneering womxn who have won the Nobel Peace Prize throughout the years!


Photos: Her Campus Media

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