Since 1987, women’s remarkable achievements in history have been celebrated throughout the month of March. A month dedicated solely to acknowledging and honoring women. However, this is not the equivalent to fair and equal pay in the workforce, and the sports industry is no exception. The sports industry is one of the biggest past-times for American citizens. The sports entertainment market in North America was worth $69.28 billion in 2017 alone and expects to continuously grow in upcoming years. However, women sports players will only see a small fraction of the $69.28 billion. According to the yearly Forbes list of The World’s Hundred Highest Paid Athletes, only one woman is featured out of the hundred in 2017. Serena Williams is recorded as the 51st highest paid athlete internationally. As of 2017, 57 percent of women actively participated in the labor force. Not only are women participating more, but females also tend to be more educated compared to males. As of 2015, 43.4% of women in the existing labor force hold an associate’s degree or higher while only 41.2% of men hold higher education degrees. Although women are taking the workforce by storm, they’re not getting their equal pay in most job positions. The current earnings ratio is 78.6% making for a 21.4% wage gap when compared to men.
Soccer is a prime example of the unfair and unequal pay between genders in the workforce. Some argue the large wage gap between genders results from less viewership or awards won in women sports, which is proven untrue by women’s soccer. The US Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) has more World Cup, FIFA, CONCACAF, and Summer Olympic winnings. Thus, they have higher FIFA placement, more streaming views, more ticket sales, and a higher national standing than the US Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT). The last time the USMNT won a medal for their World Cup performance was in 1930 in only 3rd place. USWNT has won six World Cup medals since 1991, two of which were for 1st place. USWNT is currently in 1st place for FIFA, ranking with an average of 1st and lowest ranking ever being 2nd; compare that to the USMNT, which is currently in 25th place with an average of 20th and has never been in first place. USWNT has more CONCACAF Championships & Gold Cup wins; out of eight appearances, the team has earned seven wins out of the total of eight games. In contrast, USMNT has not won one game out of their sixteen appearances.
With fewer wins and poor performance, the USMNT has never participated in the Summer Olympics and the USWNT has won gold four out of their six appearances. The 2015 Women’s World Cup against Japan was the most-watched soccer telecast in the United States with 25.4 million viewers. Hope Solo, USWNT goalkeeper who has fifteen years with the league, said it best: “the numbers speak for themselves.” In 2016, the National Women Soccer League (NWSL) brought in more revenue compared to the Major Soccer League (MSL) for the US Soccer League and is expected to continue this trend. After the 2015 World Cup win, the USWNT turned a profit of $6.6 million while USMNT made under $2 million. The 2018 expectations show that the men’s league is expecting a loss while the women’s team is expected to bring an even higher revenue percentage.
Keep the success statistics in mind when breaking down the personal financial incomes. The numbers show an even higher discrepancy between genders and it is not in favor of women. The average salary of the men’s MLS is $207, 831, which is the league below the National Team. The USWNT maximum salary in is $30,000 while they have more wins that is only 14.4% of what their male counterparts make in lower level leagues. A NWSL player could make as little as $6,000 a season even playing more games than men and winning more. Not only are the women not getting paid as much, but they are putting in more work; naturally, the more wins a team has, the more games they’re going to play. Since 2012, the women’s team has played in over 110 games while the men’s had played in only 78 games with twice as many victories throughout these games. Few team members of USWNT has brought this issue to the courtroom with a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer League about wage discrepancy but it is still an issue after this lawsuit.
With all the apparent facts, this has been an issue for many years between the leagues. The women on the team have tried to fight for their equality and have come so far but they still have a long way to go to receive the pay they deserve. Drawing national attention to this issue will increase the awareness and in turn see results of equality for the NWSL and USWNT.
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“The Origins of Women's History Month.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/holidays/womens-history-month.
Sandomir, Richard. “Women's World Cup Final Was Most-Watched Soccer Game in United States History.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 July 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/07/07/sports/soccer/womens-world-cup-final-was-most-watched-soccer-game-in-united-states-history.html.
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