Gender pay gap distorted

August 4, 2011

I am writing in response to your article "There's no good reason for this inequality" (30 June). An accompanying table ("How women's pay compares with men's") shows some interesting comparisons and emphasises the disparity between institutions.

In that table, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is ranked 67th of institutions assessed. I would, however, like to draw attention to two key points concerning the data selected for the table. The data:

• exclude part-time professors and those in senior management positions, thus omitting, in the case of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, two of our highest-paid female staff members, and a number of above-average earners

• include the pay of both clinical and non-clinical professorial staff. The pay of the first of these groups is set using NHS pay scales (and thus largely outside the control of individual institutions). Clinical staff constitute 39.2 per cent of our professorial faculty.

Our analysis of the Higher Education Statistics Agency data used to compile the table confirms that the figures are misrepresentative. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's actual gender pay gap is 4.5 per cent for non-clinical professorial staff and 6.3 per cent for clinical professorial staff.

Clearly we have work to do - these figures highlight some important issues faced by the school, for example the relatively low number of female clinical consultants at professorial level, as well as reflecting historical decisions that will resolve themselves only as our more senior members of staff leave school employment.

We are committed to equal pay, and have schemes in place to ensure that it is upheld irrespective of gender, ethnic origin, disability and hours worked. Our senior management team is a good example of how successful our gender policies have been - of the eight members, three are male, five are female.

Peter Piot, Director, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

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