Published: Feb. 18, 2020
Stefanie Johnson with student

New research from Leeds Associate Professor Stefanie K. Johnson is helping Hubble Space Telescope create space for more lead women scientists. Johnson and co-author Jessica Kirk from the University of Memphis analyzed data from 16 application cycles for the Hubble Space Telescope project and found that women lead scientists were being awarded telescope time at a lower rate than men.

Hubble then employed several methods to conceal gender of lead scientists from proposals until they landed upon dual-anonymization—which removes all scientists’ personal information from applications and instructs applicants to write their proposals in such a way that masks their identities. This method resulted in reviewers rating proposals from both genders equally, therefore eliminating the gender bias.

Johnson’s and Kirk’s study shows HST that removing gender from the equation allows women to do better, especially when the decision-making is based on science. Their findings also have potential for broader applications outside of science, since their methodology can be implemented in a variety of industries and groups to combat gender bias. Read more about this study.