07/10/2019 Molly Moseley

Women winning in sports are losing in pay

GOAL! U.S. women proved they can rock it on the soccer field as they won it all in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Pride beamed from people of all ages as they stood behind a team of ladies so incredibly dedicated and skilled that they just brought home their second consecutive and fourth overall title.

These gals work hard and have the wins to prove their worth, but if you look more closely at what they’re paid, it’s apparent that here in the good old U.S. of A., we don’t value women in sports very much … at least when it comes to their pay.

The U.S. national women’s soccer team is much more successful than the male counterpart. However, they are paid only a fraction of what male athletes make. Comparing the teams’ pay for 20 exhibition games per year, women make $1,350 per game win and men make $17,625. For games lost women get nothing while men still pocket $5,000. And the player pay for making the World Cup team? $15,000 for the gals but $68,750 for the guys.

Those are some massive differences. Here in Minnesota where LinkUp is headquartered, we’re familiar with this storyline. The Minnesota Lynx crush wins much more than the Timberwolves, but their pay is much lower. Apparently, if you’re a woman in sports, no matter how much you win, you lose when it comes to your paycheck.

This isn’t unique to sports; it’s a problem across virtually all industries. Women almost everywhere are paid less than men, and while the pay gap is narrowing, it’s at a painfully slow pace that has all but stalled out over the last decade or so. Women earn 85% of what men earn, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers in the United States. That means it would take an extra 39 days of work for women to earn what men do!

These rockstar female soccer athletes seem to have it even worse. Their per game pay is a measly 7.6% of what males get. What’s the common justification for this massive pay gap? Typically people point to male sports leagues bringing in much more revenue than the female.

Fair point. It makes sense to some extent that money going in impacts money going out in sports and entertainment. However, a Forbes article dug into the numbers for the NBA versus the WNBA and found the percentages disproportional. Apparently the NBA pays its players about 50% of league revenue while WNBA players are receiving less than 25% of the revenue. I’m inclined to think this isn’t isolated to basketball and there are likely similarities in other sports.

If you’re reading this you’re likely not a professional athlete, but you probably see gender pay discrepancies frequently, maybe in your industry and just maybe at your place of employment. The big question is: What can you do to address it?

Photo credit: Editorial credit: feelphoto / Shutterstock.com

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