Only two women have won the prize since it was first awarded in 1901: Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963. The other 189 winners were men.
The physics panel also has a tendency to reward younger people than the other Nobel Prize committees. The average age for physics laureates is 54, the lowest for any of the six prize categories. Nobel literature laureates are on average 10 years older.
The 2012 Nobel Prize announcements got under way Monday with the medicine prize going to stem cell pioneers John Gurdon of Britain and Japan's Shinya Yamanaka. Each award is worth 8 million kronor, or about $1.2 million.