Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

De-biasing the evaluation process of in-person review panels for a postdoctoral fellowship

Good intentions are not enough to advance diversity. This case study of a 2019 postdoctoral fellowship competition in astronomy illustrates how incorporating lessons from social science research into the evaluation process mitigates bias, identifies outstanding scientists, and improves diversity.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Strolger, L. & Natarajan, P. Doling out Hubble time with dual-anonymous evaluation. Phys. Today (1 March 2019);

  2. 2.

    Moss-Racusin, C. A. et al. Science 343, 615–616 (2014).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Lincoln, A. E., Pincus, S., Koster, J. B. & Leboy, P. S. Soc. Stud. Sci. 42, 307–320 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Stewart, A. J. & Valian, V. An Inclusive Academy: Achieving Diversity and Excellence (MIT Press, 2018).

  5. 5.

    Wennerås, C. & Wold, A. Nature 387, 341–343 (1997).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Kaiser, C. R. et al. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 104, 504–519 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Bertrand, M. & Mullainathan, S. Am. Econ. Rev. 94, 991–1013 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Steinpreis, R. E., Anders, K. A. & Ritzke, D. Sex Roles 41, 509–528 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Dutt, K., Pfaff, D. L., Bernstein, A. F., Dillard, J. S. & Block, C. J. Nat. Geosci. 9, 805–809 (2016).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J. & Handelsman, J. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 109, 16474–16479 (2012).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Carnes, M. et al. J. Divers. High. Educ. 5, 63–77 (2012).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Danziger, S., Levav, J. & Avinaim-Pesso, L. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 6889–6892 (2011).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Kahneman, D. Thinking Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011).

  14. 14.

    Witzburg, R. A. & Sondheimer, H. M. N. Engl. J. Med. 368, 1565–1567 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joyce W. Yen.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares that she is serving as a paid consultant to the Heising-Simons Foundation and assisted them with the case study featured in this Comment.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Yen, J.W. De-biasing the evaluation process of in-person review panels for a postdoctoral fellowship. Nat Astron 3, 1041–1042 (2019).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing