Play Fair, Pay Fair: How You Can Score Goal To Close Gender Pay Gap
Every player on the winningest United States women’s soccer team in history was a part of a gender discrimination lawsuitagainst the U.S. Soccer Federation recently, with the explicit goal to close the gender pay gap that unfairly compensates women in the sport.
According to the New York Times, “The players have said that they play more games than the men’s team — and win more of them — yet still receive less pay. They said ‘institutionalized gender discrimination’ affected not only their paychecks, but also where they played and how often, how they trained, the medical care and coaching they received, and even how they traveled to matches.”
In the suit filed on International Women’s Day and ahead of April’s Equal Pay Day, CNN reports that “female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts.”
One of the team co-captains Megan Rapinoe, “told CNN Sport she was confident the team would be successful, adding that the USWNT was happy to ‘clear the path as much as we can’ for other countries in the fight for gender equality.”
The suit shines a spotlight on inequities in other sports, as well as all female sports from youth to high school, college and professional levels. And it also serves as a model for what you as an individual can do to earn your fair pay.
“Their dispute with U.S. Soccer mirrors the issues that prompted a near-strike by the U.S. women’s hockey team over alleged gender disparities that was averted weeks before the 2017 world championships. And it also comes as WNBA players are mulling collective actionover allegations they receive a lower percentage of their league’s revenue than their counterparts in the NBA and as women’s tennis players continue to push for more tournaments beyond the Grand Slam events to agree to equal prize payouts for men and women,” reports the Washington Post.
The Washington Post writes, “The United States is the most successful team in women’s soccer history, winning World Cup titles in 1991, 1999 and 2015 to go with four Olympic gold medals. With marketable stars and memorable on-field moments — most notably Brandi Chastain’s penalty-kick goal to win the 1999 World Cup on U.S. soil — the team and its best players have acquired a level of celebrity perhaps unmatched by women in other American professional team sports.”
Even Serena Williams weighed in, according to Glamour.
“The pay discrepancy is ludicrous,” Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, told reporters during a press briefing at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. “It’s a battle; it’s a fight,” she added. “I think at some point in every sport, you have to have those pioneers, and maybe it’s time for soccer.”
It is a signal the top female athletes are sending to girls and women playing the sport.
According to Next College Student Athletes, “During the 2016-2017 school year, there were about 388,339 high school women’s soccer players and about 38,873 college women’s soccer players. Of these college players, 1,155 were international recruits. Only about 9.7 percent of U.S. high school women’s soccer players will compete at the college level, and approximately 2.3 percent will play Division 1 ball. About 3 percent of college women’s soccer players are international recruits.”
The Women’s Sports Foundation reports, that a 2018 study “surveyed over 1600 current college athletes in the Big Ten Conference and found significant support for sex equitable treatment between women and men in college athletics, and a willingness among many athletes to mobilize politically when they observe discriminatory treatment. “
This research in Political Research Quarterly “demonstrates that college athletes – particularly women athletes, and men who perceive the persistence of sex discrimination in American society – remain aware of and politically engaged about the problems of enduring sex inequalities within college sports,” according to the Foundation.
“The research found that while 86 percent of U.S. adults agree that participating in sports promotes leadership and teamwork skills, only four in ten U.S. adults know what steps they could take to help girls become more active in sports,” according to WSF.
As it is in all fields, sectors and disciplines, the gender pay gap in sports in the U.S. and around the globe is historic and persistent.
According to Forbes, “the top 100 highest-earning athletes are all men. Serena Williams, who tops the list of highest-earning female athletes…Still, no female athlete earned more than Serena at $18 million. The 100th-highest-paid male athlete, Nicolas Batum, a French basketball player, earned $22.9 million.”
Forbes reports, “The top ten highest-paid female athletes last year together earned a combined $105 million. Three of the top-earning male athletes, U.S. Boxer Floyd Mayweather, Argentine Soccer player Lionel Messi, and Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, each earned more than $105 million last year. The sports gender pay gap is so great that it’s estimated that NBA basketball players earn 100 times the salaries of their female WNBA counterparts.”
It’s time to play fair. And what you can do is to document differences, ask for transparency in salaries and pay in your organization and directly ask for equal compensation on comparable positions. Seek help from Payscale to see what your salary should be in your area. And advocate for yourself just as the women’s soccer team advocated for themselves.