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Young women must be clear about their own worth, says UK school charity chief

By Alison Kershaw, PA Education Correspondent

Young women must be financially independent and clear about their own worth, one of the UK's highest paid charity heads has said.

Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of the Girls Day School Trust (GDST), urged young women to accept nothing less than equal pay and to not rely on anyone else for money.

Invoking the words of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Ms Giovannoni said women should be "the lawyer your mother always wanted you to marry".

According to a report published by Civil Society Media earlier this month, Ms Giovannoni is the tenth highest paid charity boss in the UK.

Her annual salary, including pension contributions, stands at £273,679, the GDST's latest annual accounts show.

The GDST represents a group of 23 fee-paying schools and two state schools in England and Wales.

In a speech to the GDST's annual summit, Ms Giovannoni said it was time to rip up "old rules" which mean some professions are "closed shops" or that you have to be a "ball-breaker in the boardroom", and to introduce new rules that are "about making the world a better place".

Young women should know they are "in a world where you can be anything, be financially independent and clear about your own worth", she told an audience of GDST pupils and school leaders.

"You belong in places where decisions are being made."

Ms Giovannoni argued that young people think, communicate and act differently to previous generations and that "women are writing the new rules".

"Or as Ruth Bader Ginsburg - also known as the Notorious RBG, the 86-year-old US Supreme Court Justice who featured in a powerful film and a documentary this year - says: 'Be the lawyer your mother always wanted you to marry'."

The GDST is putting more focus on equipping girls with financial skills, Ms Giovannoni said.

"Managing your money - getting it, spending it, investing it, and not relying on someone else to provide it - is a life skill every woman needs.

"Taking charge of your finances is absolutely vital if you are to be financially secure and have control of your own destiny."

"In the words of Sally Davis at Howell's School, 'don't settle for anything less than equal pay for equal jobs'."

Ms Giovannoni, who was previously chief executive of the Ogilvy and Mather advertising agency, told the summit "the main way that young women are going to get money is by working for it".

"And working often means fitting in with a prevailing culture where the rules aren't currently made by women or with us in mind," she said.

"When I was younger and just starting out, I sometimes felt like I had to wear mental armour to go into the office. Like Iron Man, I had to suit up every day and adopt a different, tougher persona to get by.

"Deep breath. Inner self buried. Broad shoulders, sometimes padded - Dynasty was very big at the time. Go.

"It's not that the people I worked with were particularly awful. It's just that I don't think anyone realised to what extent the world of work was and is shaped by old rules."