ODST has no macho culture. The pay gap is a result of our appeal to women | Letters

Anne Davey and Kathy Winrow defend Oxford Diocesan School Trust’s record, while David Barnard has a suggestion on fines for companies that fail to report their gender pay gap

The Guardian is exercised over the issue of the gender pay gap in academy trusts (‘Alarming’ pay gap in academy chains, 26 March), and Danny Dorling (Opinion, 20 March) singles out the Oxford Diocesan School Trust (ODST) as an example of a trust a few per cent higher than average. He blames this on “the cult of the macho ‘strong leader’”. 

We are in favour of addressing the pay gap, but the Guardian has misunderstood the issue. ODST has 30 schools and employs almost 1,000 people; 91% are female. Of the top 30 earners, fewer than 10 are male. There is no macho culture.

School trusts have a gender pay gap because we offer employment that is part-time and term-time only. Many families have one part-time and one full-time working parent. In the vast majority of cases, the part-timer is Mum. So, as an employer, ODST is disproportionately attractive to women.

We pay all our school staff on nationally agreed scales, as negotiated with unions. There is no mechanism for men to earn more than women.

The education of our children benefits from employees of all genders who give their best at work and have enough energy left for home commitments. We will continue to offer part-time jobs in school hours, and to encourage more men to apply for them.
Anne Davey CEO, ODST
Kathy Winrow Chair, ODST

• I see that companies could face court if they fail to report their gender pay gap (Report, 26 March), and also that they may face an unlimited fine for failure. Such fines are often trivial, but if in this case they were made equal to the additional money needed to bring female pay up to the male level, companies would notice them and probably obey the law next year.
David Barnard
Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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