When Play Doesn’t Equal Pay (Literally Though)
Whether it’s because we’ve been listening to Cardi B’s Money on repeat or because we’ve been working on our 2019 budget, we’ve been thinking a lot about them dollar bills lately.
So, we all know about the wage gap. The gender wage gap is the difference in earnings between women and men in the workplace. In Canada, women earn an average of 69 cents for every dollar earned by men. *rolls eyes*
And yet, if you can believe it, one industry that remains even more behind the times is sports.
From 86% of sports media being made up of men, to the sports industry “shrinking it and pinking it” in order to “make sports attractive” to women, to double the amount of girls dropping out of sports than boys in their pre-teen years, society still makes it seem like sports are a “guys thing” (even though they’re not).
Society still makes it seem like sports are a “guys thing”
(even though they’re not).
Men’s sports are also still largely seen as the “higher quality” and “more exciting” game. As a result, only 4% of sports media coverage is on women’s sports and attendance to their games is strikingly low (is it too soon to roll our eyes again?).
Unfortunately, this chicken and the egg cycle keeps going. Many athletes make their big bucks through brand sponsorships that supplement their salary. But, because of the lack of eyeballs on the women’s game, their pay suffers. Only 0.4% of endorsement money goes toward female athletes.
Moreover, women athletes’ salaries are far less compared to their male counterparts. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) for example, just began paying their athletes in 2017. Their salaries? $2k - $10k per player. In comparison, a starting salary for an NHL player is $650k.
In the WNBA, the maximum veteran salary (aka the salary that is being paid to the VERY BEST in the league) is $114k. Meanwhile, the lowest salary of a professional NBA player is $835k and the highest is $34M… 300 times more than their female counterparts. On top of that, WNBA players receive about 20% of every dollar the league earns in revenue whereas NBA players receive about 50% of every dollar earned.
The good news is that some pro sports have got their sh!t together. Starting in 2007, tennis finally achieved pay equity in all grand slams. And, although not a single woman cracked Forbes’ top 100 highest-paid athletes in 2018, tennis Kween Serena Williams made an appearance in 2017 (she dropped off in 2018 because of her pregnancy… don’t get us started on that one).
Still, as much as tennis may have reached pay equity in tournament winnings, the difference in endorsement money between men and women remains.
Let’s compare Serena Williams - a 23-time grand slam singles
titles winner to Roger Federer - a 20-time winner.
Off the court, Williams makes $18M from endorsement fees and appearances. Federer makes $65M… over 3.6 times more than Williams who hold the most major singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles combined among active players, regardless of gender. SMDH.
Okay. So we know we’ve painted a kinda sorta not so great picture. But the good news is that this picture is gradually getting better (although the road is seeming long AF). Generation to generation, more women are becoming sports fans and more people want to watch women’s sports (including men!).
The GIST is a very tiny piece of this sports industry puzzle (for now!). But, we’re hoping that by providing sports content that’s by women and for women, and by highlighting women’s leagues and female athletes, we might be able to help level the #wagegap playing field a little bit faster.
Not subscribed to our newsletter yet? Twice a week we give you “the gist” of everything happening in the sports world, from a female perspective for a change. Let’s make this inbox official.