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The Issue of Pay Equity in Sports

In sports, the gender pay gap is especially lopsided. The global sport business - worth $145.3bn in 2017, according to a PwC estimate- is far from a level playing field for all genders.

"Women are far more visible in sports today than at any previous point in history," says UN Women in a statement. Yet the pace of change is so slow that it will take "a long journey" to reach pay parity at the top level, experts say. Cricket, golf and football are among the worst offenders, as well as darts, snooker and squash.

"I cannot think of any other industry that has such a wage gap, really. Depending on country context and sport, a man can be billionaire and a woman [in the same discipline] cannot even get a minimum salary," says Beatrice Frey, sport partnership manager at UN Women.

Why does the gender pay gap in sports exist?

  • stereotypes and biases

  • fewer sponsorship deals and chances for female athletes to negotiate sponsorships

  • fewer opportunities to play

  • unequal representation of women in Sports media

  • misconceptions about women's physical and athletic abilities

In fact, the disparity is so wide that the money pulls skilled men into a career in sports, while the lack of money makes it impossible for many talented women to earn a living as an athlete. The Global Sports Salary Survey (GSSS), produced by the U.K.-based research firm Sporting Intelligence, counted 137,021 men who played professional soccer in the world in 2017 and just 1,287 women -- a ratio of 106 to 1.

Instance of Unequal Pay:

For winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Team won $2 million. Germany’s men’s team took home $35 million for winning the 2014 World Cup. The U.S. men’s team finished in 11th place and collected $9 million, and each men’s team that was eliminated in the first round of the 2014 World Cup got $8 million each, which is four times as much as the 2015 women’s championship team.

Another example:

Lydia Ko, is from New Zealand and in 2015, she became the youngest player of either gender, to be ranked number one in professional golf. That year, she pocketed less money than the golfer in position 25th in the male ranking of the PGA Tour.


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