Gender-Related Systematics in the NRAO and ALMA Proposal Review Processes

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A study has been made of the evidence for gender-related systematics in the proposal review processes for the four facilities operated by NRAO: the Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA; hereafter VLA), the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile which is operated by NRAO/AUI in partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the National Astronomical Observatories of Japan (NAOJ), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. A significant gender-related effect is found in the proposal rankings in favor of men over women in the ALMA Proposal Review Processes (PRP) for ALMA Cycles 2-4, with reliability of 99.998% that the underlying rank distributions for male and female PIs are not the same. The effect is largest and most significant for ALMA Cycle 3. A similar overall result is found for the other three NRAO telescopes over proposal Semesters 2012A-2017A, but with lower reliability level overall (98.3%), and with some reversals across semesters in the trend for better performance in the rankings for male PIs. The results align with similar studies recently completed for the HST (Reid 2014) and the ESO proposal review processes (Patat 2016). No correlations are found between the gender-related proposal ranking trends and the gender fractions on review panels. The HST and ESO proposal reviews have come to different conclusions from each other on the role of seniority on the gender-related proposal outcomes at those observatories. The currently available data for the ALMA and NRAO user base do not allow us to investigate the important question of the dependence on the gender-related trends of the seniority of the principal investigators.

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