Informed consent letter

Please find below information outlining the nature of our study as well as relevant ethical and consent information. Our goal is to use survey data to understand why some lab/research groups have more or fewer male versus female graduate students. We aim to collect information such as the status of the university (e.g. major research university, primarily undergraduate), subject area, and information regarding the principal investigator (e.g. gender, career stage). You are being approached to participate because you are a professor at a university. If you are not a professor please do not complete the survey. This research is funded by the University of Toronto Faculty Association and should require less than ten minutes of your time.

Participation is entirely voluntary and you have the right to refuse to participate or withdraw your participation at any time without any negative consequences. You can decline to participate simply by not completing the survey, and can withdraw from the survey at any time by exiting your internet browser. All personal data including your name and the name of your university will be treated as confidential. Data will be stored on a secure server and if moved to another computer for analysis will first be anonymized by replacing participant and university names with study-specific IDs.

Our survey carries minimal risk and has potential benefits for our understanding of research group structure and gender differences in academics. We believe our work can contribute to our understanding of why gender differences in academia may be present, and when those gender differences are likely to be greatest.

All information collected will be treated as strictly confidential. Only the investigators (Denon Start, PhD Candidate) and supervisor (Dr. Shannon McCauley, Assistant Professor) will have access to survey data. Participants can withdraw their consent during the survey by exiting their browser, or after the survey by emailing either researcher (emails below). Withdrawal will only be possible for three months after completing the survey, at which time we reserve the right to publish our results, although all data will be anonymized. We intend to publish our results in a scientific journal and may present our results at conferences or other public forums. In all cases we will maintain confidentiality of participants throughout this process.

If you have any questions about the survey please contact Denon Start ( or Shannon McCauley ( If you have questions regarding human research ethics or your rights as a participant please contact the University of Toronto’s Research Oversight and Compliance Office-Human Research Ethics Program (; 416-946-3273). This project has been approved by the Research Ethics Board at the University of Toronto (protocol # 33882).

By clicking the button at the beginning of the survey you are stating that you understand your rights as a participant and consent to participating in our survey.

Thank you for your participation.

Denon Start

Dr. Shannon McCauley