Strickland is just the third woman to win a Nobel Physics Prize since it was first awarded in 1901, while Ashkin, 96, is the oldest person to win a Nobel, beating out American Leonid Hurwicz who was 90 when he won the 2007 Economics Prize.
Donna Strickland, a University of Waterloo professor who helped to pioneer the development of lasers that produce brief but intense pulses of light for a range of applications, has been named a victor of this year's Nobel Prize in physics.
The rest of the cash will be split between Gérard Mourou, a retired physicist, and Donna Strickland, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
Arthur Ashkin of the United States was the third victor of the 2018 physics prize.
Strickland, however, told the BBC that the comments did not affect her, and that she has "always been treated as an equal". "I'm honored to be one of those women", Strickland said, according to the Nobel Prize Foundation. They are so short that we can time them as never before.
Both inventions had "revolutionized laser physics", the Royal Swedish Academy said. They have been awarded "for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses".
The duo invented what is called chirped pulse amplification, a process in which laser pulses are stretched in time, amplified and then compressed. "I found that hard".
He explained: "We needed a new way to create the peak power of laser pulses".
Strickland got her doctorate at UR in 1989 and Mourou is a former optics professor and scientist there.
Macron tweeted on Tuesday "we are proud of Gerard Mourou", the 74-year-old co-winner with Arthur Ashkin of the United States and Canada's Donna Strickland.
The prize was also awarded to Prof Arthur Ashkin, for his invention of "optical tweezers" that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser-beam fingers. The last time the award was presented to a woman occurred 55 years ago, when Maria Goeppert-Mayer received the 1963 award for her contribution to discovering atomic nuclei structure.
The university's campus was abuzz with the news Tuesday morning.
Charmaine Dean, vice-president research at the University of Waterloo said: "Donna Strickland exemplifies research excellence at Waterloo".
"This gives us a rallying point and a flag to hold high", Dean said with a broad smile.
Jessica Wade, a physicist at Imperial College London who was at the CERN event and unhappy about Strumia's comments, said having a female Nobel victor was also important given the current fight over US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is facing sexual misconduct allegations.
Women in the sciences are celebrating news of a Canadian researcher joining the rarified ranks of female winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics and hoping it may encourage more young women to join similar fields.
"I thought there might have been more but I couldn't think. I think the majority of people are ready".