A question was recently asked about the gender distribution of the 2021 Nobel Prize laureates. I cast the deciding "close as off-topic" vote on this question. I felt this question was off-topic for two reasons:
- There are many a number of Nobel prizes, some of which are only very tenuously related to Academia. Similarly, there are many areas of Academia for which there is no Nobel prize.
Nobel Prizes are awarded to individuals working in all sectors, including government, academia, industry, and individual work.- Mea culpa... research-adjacent fields are on-topic
- The Nobel Committee is in no way "academia"... it is a small set of people who make decisions based on their own set of criteria, and their metrics don't necessarily align with academia's idea of success.
- The specific question asked above—asking about gender distributions—is clearly off-topic, as that has nothing to do with academia, academic achievement, or the award. It's a general critique of a decision-making process for a specific non-academic award-granting committee.
I'm posting this here to start a discussion on whether I was wrong to close this question and to solicit reasons in both directions.