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Taking gender out of the equation can enable scientists to better their odds for landing research time on the Hubble Space Telescope, and could likely help any group looking to counter the effects of gender bias, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Colorado Boulder researcher.

Stefanie K. Johnson, an associate professor at CU Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, was approached by the committee in charge of granting time on the telescope in 2016. The committee was looking for ways to level out the acceptance time between male and female scientists who proposed telescope projects.

Johnson, along with study co-author Jessica F. Kirk, assistant professor at the University of Memphis, analyzed 16 application cycles, involving 15,545 applications for time on the telescope, according to a news release.

Johnson and Kirk found male reviewers in the HST Time Allocation Committee were rating female scientists’ proposals significantly worse than male-led proposals, and that stripping out scientists’ information, a process known as “dual anonymization,” resulted in female lead scientists’ applications performing slightly better than men’s.

Johnson, according to the release, believes the data from her study indicates that dual-anonymization could benefit nearly any group looking to combat gender bias.

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