Fútbol fans are buzzing as the United States women’s national soccer team – the best in the world and the favorite to win this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer tournament happening right now in Paris, France — prepares to play its final group-stage match against Sweden on Thursday, June 20.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the energy and the momentum” at this tournament, said Rachel Allison, a professor at Mississippi State University who is attending this year’s World Cup to continue her research on fans of women’s soccer. “We see an energy in the crowd that is directed toward the field, with lots of cheering and applause for both teams when they’re making excellent plays and when they’re going toward goal.”
Allison’s observations of fan engagement are important for another reason. She feels that fans are critical to the support of women’s soccer off the field, as well. The key issue women players are facing: equity.
Battle On and Off the Field
In March, the U.S. women’s national team sued the United States soccer federation claiming “purposeful gender discrimination” and demanding equal compensation, a battle they have been fighting for years. It’s no secret that the winner’s pool for the Women’s World Cup is $30 million, compared with $400 million for the last FIFA World Cup for men that took place in Russia in 2018. And this is just one of the issues fueling the women’s soccer equity debate. Women’s teams worldwide receive lower investments and lack valuable resources to survive and thrive. This is a global issue. For example, Norwegian soccer superstar Ada Hegerberg is sitting out the Women’s World Cup to fight for equality.
While the women on the U.S. team are currently fighting in France to defend their World Cup title, they are also gearing up for a courtroom battle, at the heart of which is equal pay. “As someone here at the tournament, there is a good degree of discussion about the equity issues,” noted Allison, who recently joined the K@W radio show on Sirius XM from her front-row seat at the games in Paris. “The lawsuit is ongoing and the players will take it right back up after this tournament. It’s my hope that the spotlight we see shining on a lot of these issues won’t disappear at the end of this tournament. This can be a springboard to maintain these issues on the national agenda and make some changes.”
Allison, author of the book Kicking Center: Gender and the Selling of Women’s Professional Soccer, discussed the key issues surrounding inequity in women’s professional soccer.
“The fans want to see women earn equal pay, to be better resourced, to get the attention and the money that their play deserves.” — Rachel Allison
A fundamental argument is that women generate fewer revenues from viewership and other streams and therefore don’t deserve equal pay. Allison, who has studied the numbers, doesn’t buy it. “I don’t think we fully know the commercial potential of women’s soccer,” she suggested. “We see some indication like the television viewership that interest is very high for the women’s game and in some cases higher than for the men. In terms of revenue, it’s hard to know for sure where the potential lies if the women’s game has not been as commercialized and those opportunities for revenue not made s available. For instance, television rights for the Women’s World Cup are always bundled with the Men’s World Cup, so we’ve never separated those and we don’t fully know. There is commercial potential that is being unrealized in the women’s game, and it is quite possible that we might see revenues increase in the future.”
And what of the enduring assertion that women’s soccer is, well, more boring than men’s soccer? Surrounded by a raucous crowd in Paris during what she referred to as one of the most invigorating experiences of her life, Allison countered, “There is a lingering perception that women’s sports must be less interesting, less exciting. I think anyone who has watched women’s soccer knows that is not the case. Women are playing excellent soccer and generating enormous interest and investment.”
Which brings us back to those elated fans, and their connection to equity in women’s soccer. In many cases, fans can have enormous influence over the decision-makers. “I feel optimistic about how much positive change we’re going to see for women’s soccer. By and large, public support is with the women,” noted Allison. “I’ve been doing a new study of fans of women’s football…and the fans are with the women. They want to see women earn equal pay, to be better resourced, to get the attention and the money that their play deserves.”
Love Those Luna Bars
Big business has been joining the women’s soccer fan base in significant ways. “We’ve seen increased corporate support in the last year or two for women and for their fight for equal pay,” observed Allison. “In addition to Adidas for this Women’s World Cup, Visa, one of the sponsors of this tournament, announced that they would be devoting equal marketing dollars similar to those that they devoted to the Men’s World Cup in Russia in 2018. For a lot of companies, it makes good business sense right now to support women. With a lot of corporate and public support, this is going to put pressure on FIFA [soccer’s international governing body], on U.S. soccer and other sport-organizing bodies to improve their treatment of the women’s game.”
What’s more, said Allison, she has spoken to fans of women’s soccer who appreciate the ability to weigh in on current cultural and political issues that they value. “They see the women’s soccer community as politicized and invested in a progressive gender ideology. They like the ability to make a contribution themselves, often with their dollars. I’ve spoken to a lot of fans of U.S. women’s soccer who told me they rushed out to buy their first-ever box of Luna bars after the company announced an investment in the U.S. women’s national team. This is part of what is drawing people to U.S. women’s soccer.”
- New York Times: The Best Women’s Soccer Team in the World Fights for Equal Pay
- FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019
- Washington Post: The Real Reason the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Isn’t Getting Equal Pay
- Rachel Allison Profile
How do you feel about the equity issue in women’s soccer? Do you agree that women should receive equal pay and more equal resources? Why or why not? Share your opinion in the comment section of this article.
Are you drawn to women’s soccer? What is pulling you toward the game? Is it the level of play? The cultural and political issues? What entices you?
As a fan of women’s soccer, what would you like Rachel Allison to know most about your fan status to inform her research? For example, how do you think the next generation of soccer players and supporters will influence equity in the game?
I think that the most important thing about this entire topic is that this is not just a problem about soccer, nor is it only about equal pay. The example used of Ada Hegerberg not playing in the World Cup is not about pay, as Norway has equal pay for both the Men’s and Women’s teams. She isn’t playing because she believes that women are being treated unfairly, even though they are paid as much as the men. This is a problem that women face all around the world, and the problem is gender inequality. While equal treatment of women has become far better than it was before, and many developed countries such as the United States have been treating women far more equally, there is still room for improvement, especially in less developed countries. Gender equality in poorer countries is a mess. Such pay differences are small inequality issues when women in Saudi Arabia are not legally allowed to drive, or when Lebanese women cannot file for divorce on the basis of abuse without the testimony of an eyewitness. Such unfair treatment of people in society should never be allowed.
Dear Chungtai, thank you for sharing your ideas. While I do understand your perspective, there are some aspects of your argument I do not agree with.
The point I specifically do not agree with is your use of the example of poor women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon to justify the pay gap in the western world. In my opinion, looking towards greater discrimination in other societies as a method of justifying ‘lesser’ discrimination in our own is simply irrational.
In my understanding, the fight against gender discrimination must end only when there is complete equality in every sense, which is exactly what makes Ada Hegerberg’s story truly exceptional. Being Norwegian, a country with the second smallest gender wage gap in the world (after Iceland), Ada is a true example of how simply settling for ‘better than other societies’ is not good enough! Ada still fought for what she believed were her rights — and it paid off…in late 2017, the Norwegian football association announced that men and women would be paid equally. To me, this is an example of how gender inequality exists in every single country, and each one society must fight it at its own pace, until it is completely eradicated. Granted, reforms to women’s rights in Lebanon for example, may be more pivotal to the global fight for gender equality than equal pay in the World Cup; but that should in no way undermine the efforts to achieve equality in other societies in their capacities.
As for your example of Saudi Arabian women, they have recently been given the right to drive – and while there is still much to be desired in terms of gender equality in the society, it is a step in the right direction. I believe to successfully fight gender inequality, we must acknowledge that different counties and societies are at different stages, but are all working towards a similar eventual goal. To reach that utopian society where gender inequality is non existent, we must compare our society to the ideal utopian one, rather than other societies further behind us in the process.
I hope you understand my perspective and reasoning, and look forward to a reply from you to better understand your stance on the issue, and your opinion on how the situation can best be tackled.
While the world continues to advance in every field, some people choose to remain in the past on gender equality. Amendments and laws were added or changed in the last century or so to guarantee and protect women’s rights. But in recent years, increased events like this shows that some people don’t understand those rights. Women should definitely receive equal pay and equal resources on any field because they train as hard as the men to get there, and they deserve it. The world will never truly move on until gender equality is fully recognized.
It is undeniable that the gender pay gap is a serious dilemma not only in football, but in almost every sport globally. According to Forbes, tennis is the sport with the smallest gender pay gap. Considering the fact that eight of the ten highest paid female athletes are tennis players and several female tennis players are household names, we can look towards tennis as an example of how sports can at least come close to eradicating the gender gap.
There are a few key factors that could allow tennis to have the smallest gender pay gap. Firstly, since 2006, prize money in tennis has been divided equally for all major tournaments (grand slams) between men and women, despite women only playing a best of 3 sets while men play a best of 5. As mentioned, this is not the case for a sport like football. Therefore, it can be seen that since tennis is a sport played as an individual and not team, the sport can easily be regulated through maintaining similar amounts of prize money – which is the main source of revenue for players – rather than salaries that are used in other sports like football. Structural reforms in the form of prize money dictating wages, and male and female prize money being standardized could therefore be a huge step in the right direction.
Another factor for the popularity in women’s tennis could be due to mixed doubles. While mixed doubles is certainly not the most popular format, it could prove to be a gateway, for an easy and seamless transition of viewership from male to female tennis matches. Furthermore, when a ‘team’ consists of only two players, as they do during mixed doubles, both members are almost always paid equally – leading the ground for equal pay in tennis. If such a format were introduced to sports with high gender pay gaps, it could work as a gateway between men’s and women’s sports. While this may not be completely practical in all sports – not at the same scale as tennis at least – this being implemented in almost any capacity could only help.
The most important factor, however, are the regulations. As Novak Djokovic has pointed out, viewership of male tennis is still significantly higher than that of female tennis. In such a case, the standardization of pay comes down to work by the International Tennis Association. This highlights that before expecting equity in viewership, we must first offer equity in terms of pay, as shown in tennis.
Through the implementation of such reforms and concepts, equity in pay can be achieved quickly.
Thank you for sharing your ideas! I find the vision you have for equal pay in soccer (and other sports) in connection with tennis is very interesting and compelling. But of course, we are not just talking about equal pay here.
There are still lots of other kinds of inequality displayed in tennis. Serena Williams was penalized three times during the US Open when she threw down her racket and then again after calling the chair umpire a liar and a thief. But, when Andy Murray, a British tennis player, kicked a tennis ball at the umpire’s head in Cincinnati Masters, Murray didn’t receive any penalty. Alizé Cornet was penalized for briefly showing her sports bra in 95-degree heat in the US Open. But, when male players like Novak Djokovic remove their shirt due to the heat, no penalties were given.
Even though our society is working hard to eliminate gender inequality, it can still be seen everywhere, including sports. There really isn’t a simple solution to this problem, and raising women’s salary is only going to solve part of the issue. The hundreds of years of gender inequality aren’t just going to go away in a few years. The process is long and gradual, and education, starting at Pre-K, is very important in this process. We need to educate our future generation to view everyone the same way, especially those who live in a conservative environment. By informing and educating kids at a young age, we might be able to reach gender equality someday.
“When men are oppressed it’s a tragedy, when women are oppressed it’s a tradition.” This quote from Letty Cottin Pogrebin, an author and Emmy Award winner, describes the harsh reality of our society today.
Women have been oppressed both on and off the soccer field. Indeed, in nearly every given career, men are paid more than women for doing the same amount of work. Why is this so? Well, some may assume that men work harder than women, or that women have more domestic duties to take care of so they deserve less pay. These antiquated prejudices have been proven false many times over. Just two days ago, the USA women’s soccer team won the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup, which is already a better achievement than the US men’s team. This negates any claim that could be made about women not being able to do as well as men. Countless empowered individuals such as Indra Nooyi also directly challenge such biases. As the CEO of PepsiCo, a member of the board of directors of Amazon, and one of the top 100 most powerful women in the world, Nooyi is a prime example of how successful a working mother can be.
Not only are they underpaid, but women are also heavily underrepresented in a number of fields. For example, in software engineering, female representation was at 16% as of 2018, only a percentage point increase from 2013.
I’ve actually personally experienced this gender gap. Last semester, I took an introductory engineering class. When I eagerly entered the class for the first time, I had to do a double take. As I looked around the room, I didn’t see a single other girl! The teacher (also male) later informed me that yes, I was the only girl who had signed up for his class and female students were usually an anomaly. Though I felt a little uncomfortable, I sat down with a smile. However, internally, I was bewildered. Why didn’t any other girls sign up for – in my opinion – this fascinating subject?
I later discussed my engineering class with my friends. While they expressed dismay at the unequal gender distribution, they asked me, “Why would you sign up for engineering? Did your parents make you take that or something?” Apparently, taking an engineering class as a female was something to be questioned. My response about how interesting I found the subject and how I voluntarily took the class was only met with raised brows and disconcerted glances.
One day, I hope to be able to take part in a world where the phrase “gender wage gap” does not exist. It will be a world where men and women shall be equally represented in every field, from professional soccer to engineering. And they will not only be equally represented but also equally paid. In order to help make this dream become a reality, women must speak out. Women around the world need to make their voices heard, just like how the US women’s national soccer team brought their case to the federal court. Through educating the public about gender wage discrimination, we will be taking small but steady steps towards true equality. In addition, I believe that legislation should be passed to penalize businesses or individuals who do not abide by the Equal Pay Act of 1963. With all these measures, I believe that gender equity is within our grasp.
Thank you for your detailed and extremely interesting response. Your anecdote about being the only girl who signed up for an engineering class reminded me of a similar situation at my school and got me thinking about women in STEM. When I took Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science this year, I was also surprised at the lack of female representation, especially in a class that grants college credit in such a relevant and developing field in STEM.
However, this trend doesn’t appear to hold consistently across the country. According to Mark Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, high school girls take more AP and Honors math and science classes and get higher grades in those courses compared to their male counterparts. It thus appears that girls enter college with a better background in STEM than boys.
Around the same number of women as men also leave college with degrees in STEM. According to the National Science Foundation, in 2014, 317,900 women received Bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields compared to 318,015 men, a less than one-tenth of a percent of a disparity. The major exceptions to equal representation are in Computer Science, Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Psychology, where women are significantly underrepresented in all fields except for psychology, where men are significantly underrepresented. Therefore, both of our experiences of underrepresentation in engineering and computer science are correct, but the trend doesn’t hold in STEM fields as a whole, at least when it comes to education.
This trend continues to employment as well. According to PEW Research, women are significantly underrepresented in Computer Science, Engineering, and Physical Science, but make up a majority of Healthcare Practitioners and Technicians.
Because jobs in computer science and engineering pay more on average than jobs from psychology, the question of the pay gap is in part a question of whether women are discouraged from participating in fields like computer science and engineering or prefer psychology over those fields. You mentioned how your interest in engineering as a female was something to be questioned with raised brows and disconcerted glances, and that is undoubtedly part of the problem. However, given that women outperform men in STEM fields in high school and college, I think that one serious explanation for disparities between subjects in STEM is due to preferences and not discrimination. I can’t speak for the experiences of women, but while I do not plan on taking a psychology class, a field where males are underrepresented, I would not be questioned if I were to do so. As of the present, I find computer science more interesting than psychology, even though I do not feel like I have been pushed in either direction. Therefore, I think it may be possible that even if we reach the ideal world where there are no longer stigmas for women pursuing any field, disparities in representation could still exist. You mention that you hope for a world where women are equally represented in every discipline of work, but the implementation of such a policy raises other questions; for instance, should girls who want to major in fields like psychology where women are already a majority transfer to engineering?
I’d also like to add on to your advocacy for increased enforcement of the Equal Pay Act, which specifies that men and women should be given equal pay for similar jobs. You mention that women should not deserve less pay because of their domestic duties and that Nooyi is an example of how successful mothers can be in the workforce.
While many mothers can succeed in the workforce, that doesn’t mean that all women choose to do so after having a child, which is a respectable decision. However, under the reality that women still bear more child-bearing responsibilities, gender-based discrimination can, unfortunately, make economic sense. Given two equally qualified candidates, one male and one female, a company may choose to hire the male because a female candidate who takes paid maternity leave and doesn’t return to work costs the company not only the maternity benefits but also the expense of hiring and training another employee. If the Equal Pay Act is more strictly enforced, for instance by making employee salaries completely transparent, it’s possible that companies will hire fewer women and try to circumvent the Equal Pay Act by making up logical-sounding reasons to reject well-qualified female candidates.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t increase enforcement on the Equal Pay Act, but stricter enforcement shouldn’t be the only policy change in place. In his book Naked Economics, Charles Wheelan proposes that companies should also offer a refundable maternity package. If women return to work, they get to keep the package, but if they do not, the package is returned to the company. By aligning economic incentives for all parties, companies are rightfully not rewarded for harmful behavior like rejecting qualified female candidates.
Expanding on your point about soccer, I also agree that the women’s soccer team winning the semi-finals is a more exceptional achievement than the men’s soccer team has accomplished. Concerns about maternity leave should certainly not add up to a funding disparity of $370 million. However, I think others may still argue that the women’s soccer league is not as competitive as the men’s soccer league.
For example, in the 2019 US Chess Championship, which bars entry based on rating and not gender, every player was male, and the highest rated player was 2828 while the lowest rated player was 2557. In the 2019 Women’s Chess Championship, the highest rated player was 2451, and the lowest rated player was 2143. In perspective, a 2451-rated player is ranked around thirteen-hundredth in the world, while a 2828-rated player is ranked second in the world. While I understand that the purpose of the women’s section is to promote gender diversity in chess, many will argue that the disparity in strength between the two divisions justifies the gap in funding ($194,000 for the Open and $100,000 for the Women’s Championship). However, there is growing respect for women in chess because many female players choose to participate in open sections and perform exceptionally well. In the Open section of the US Championships, there is a wildcard nomination which allows a player to qualify without fulfilling the rating qualification, although it is typically not used for women. Do you think the wildcard nomination should be used to promote gender diversity in the Open section of the US Chess Championship? I’d also like to raise similar questions about soccer: do you think women should play in the FIFA World Cup, and we should abolish gender-based soccer leagues?
I’ve added sources below in case you want to check some of my statistics. I hope to hear your response!
Statistics on Female Representation in High School STEM Classes – http://www.aei.org/publication/national-stem-crisis-then-why-are-high-school-girls-out-performing-boys-in-science-and-math-classes/
National Science Foundation Statistics on Bachelor’s Degrees in STEM Fields – https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2017/nsf17310/static/data/tab5-1.pdf
Statistics on Average Wages Based on Bachelor’s Degree – https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/valueofcollegemajors/
Information about the US Chess Championships (use the bar on the right to access information about the players in each section as well as information about the two sections. Note that the ratings I cited are slightly different from the ratings on the website as I used FIDE ratings, or the international system of rating, whereas they used USCF ratings, or the US system of rating) – https://www.uschesschamps.com/2019-us-championships/2019-us-championship/the-field
Thank you so much for your long and thought-provoking response! I really appreciate the examples and points you brought up, and I’ve learned a lot. I’d like to clarify a few points and respond to some of your thoughts.
Your example from Mark Perry brings a question to mind. If women are entering college with a better background in STEM than men, why are there so few women in careers such as computer science, engineering, and physical science? I acknowledge your reasoning of personal preferences as a possible explanation. However, a Harvard Business Review article suggests another possible reason. The article by two professors at London Business School, which I have linked below, states, “women were much less likely to apply for a job if they had been rejected for a similar job in the past. Of course, men were also less likely to apply if they had been rejected, but the effect was much stronger for women — more than 1.5 times as strong.” This is a vicious cycle–every case of discrimination against women at every stage of their careers will likely lead to women becoming less confident and having fewer opportunities. As a result, fewer and fewer women would be inclined to apply to that same field again, decreasing women representation.
Despite the progress that has been made in our society, it is not far-fetched to believe that many employers still discriminate against women and reject their applications. This is supported by a 2018 Pew Research Center article which suggests that “about half of women in STEM workplaces with a majority of men think their gender has made it harder to succeed in their job.” Whether from personal experience or hearsay, women are being discouraged to apply to STEM-related careers due to potential barriers to workplace success.
I’d also like to answer your question “should girls who want to major in fields like psychology where women are already a majority transfer to engineering?” Of course not. If they do so, it will perpetuate the problem. In my view, women should be able to pursue whatever career they are interested in. The problem is not whether there is an exactly equal distribution of male and female workers in the same profession, but rather whether men and women have exactly equal opportunities to get the jobs they want in the first place. If there are no longer stigmas for women pursuing careers and if there are equal employment opportunities, I think that the disparity in gender representation would even out on its own.
As for introducing a refundable maternity package, I agree that aligning economic incentives for all parties involved would likely decrease the chances of women being discriminated against in employment. However, do you think this should vary on a case-by-case basis? I think if this measure is implemented, women would have increased pressure to return to work, which could have a negative impact on those who may not be able to return immediately due to various reasons.
On your remarks about soccer, while some may argue that the women’s soccer league is not as competitive as the men’s league, I believe the level of competitiveness does not affect the number of fans. According to a June 17, 2019 Wall Street Journal report, “US women’s soccer matches actually had stronger ticket sales and brought in more revenue from games than the men’s team between 2016 and 2018.” Then why are women’s soccer teams still being paid so much less?
To address your questions about chess and soccer: In short, yes, I do believe that the wildcard nomination should be used to promote gender diversity in the Open section of the US Chess Championship. If more women are inducted into the Open, the lack of female participation will gradually decline. For soccer, I don’t think women should play in the FIFA World Cup. Isn’t there already a FIFA Women’s World Cup? The US team’s success in the FIFA Women’s World Cup will certainly encourage more girls to play in this competitive game.
Finally, it seems that we don’t have fundamentally different perspectives on this critically important issue; however, maybe we are looking at the same issue from slightly different angles and we share the same concerns. We both hope that women will have equal opportunities and pay in the future. If we all work together, we can change this world for the better. Please feel free to respond if you have more thoughts to share with me.
Thank you for your detailed response; it was a pleasure to read! We may be looking at the same issue at slightly different angles as you’ve mentioned, but your perspective is very insightful. I’d also like to clarify some of my positions and add onto your ideas.
I was very interested in The Harvard Business Review article you linked, which explored the idea that women are more likely to interpret rejection as injustice and withdraw from the system. I think that this phenomenon may occur earlier in schools and not just in the job market. For instance, girls told that pursuing engineering is strange may seek comfort in fields where women are already well represented. In this way, a current lack of representation can perpetuate itself in a vicious cycle. Therefore, I agree that we should aim to remove stigmas against women entering low-representation fields.
I now want to move on to the refundable maternity leave package I mentioned earlier. You suggested that the conditionality of the package may put pressure on women to return to work when they’re not ready to. However, I think that the conditional package can help resolve that issue. When companies provide unconditional maternity leave, they may reduce the potential costs by hiring fewer women and reducing the benefits offered. If companies know whether or not their employees will return to work, they can make their benefits more generous as the median cost to replace an employee is 21% of their annual salary. Considering that paid family leave is still optional and not widespread, conditional maternity leave packages can be attractive for both the company and the employee. The employee can take time off work as necessary and up to 21% of their annual salary in benefits and the company does not have to replace an employee or evade that cost by hiring fewer women. To answer your question, I think refundable maternity leave will allow companies to be more flexible and generous and tailor benefits on a case-by-case basis.
I strongly support equal pay, and I hope that the lawsuit can bridge the pay gap in soccer. You mentioned that women should not compete in men’s divisions in soccer because the women’s league is already more successful than the men’s league. Let me clarify my previous statements – I don’t think we should abolish women’s divisions, but some people have suggested that female players should have the option to play with or against men. Integrating sports is one way to allow women’s soccer to be valued as highly as men’s soccer. In a 2008 study conducted by Eric Anderson, professor of sports, masculinities, and sexualities at the University of Winchester, it was found that “all the athletes [who participated on a sports team with women] reported having learned to respect and value women as friends, teammates, and competent leaders.” As Anderson states, combating harmful perceptions of women in sports is especially important as the “orthodox masculinity” promoted in sports results in male athletes objectifying and degrading women. While some may argue that women aren’t capable of competing at the level of men, it doesn’t appear there’s strong scientific evidence to support that conclusion, and any gap may be caused by the lack of funding for women’s athletics. Women can outperform men in endurance and stamina lasting more than two hours and are better at cooperation, a critical skill in team sports. Therefore, integrating sports is a possible solution to destroy this “separate but equal” mindset some have to women’s and men’s sports.
Thanks again for the engaging discussion, Sophia.
US Senate Statistics on Paid Family Leave – https://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/646d2340-dcd4-4614-ada9-be5b1c3f445c/jec-fact-sheet—economic-benefits-of-paid-leave.pdf
Gender Segregation in Sports
Well said! There is indeed a huge pay gap between men and women soccer players, even though both are performing the highest levels of game in their fields respectively. Women deserve as much respect as men do. However, is respect the only thing missing from women’s soccer today? In fact, the market value of both men and women’s soccer is the thing that we should consider in the first place to evaluate the causes of wage inequity in soccer.
Firstly, we should be clear about the topic, which is the equity in a specific sport—soccer, not the entire world. As a Chinese saying puts it, people specialized in different fields should be assigned to different tasks. Women are doing incredibly well in sports such as gymnastics, dancing, and synchronized swimming. However, situations in soccer differ from those sports, because soccer involves intense body collisions in which men are in dominance and the matches tend to be more eye-catchhing. This is not to say that women should not play the sport they love or be disrespected in soccer, but we cannot change this dilemma of women’s soccer players by simply asking for equity and giving moral support.
Firstly, all the women, no matter what major they are studying in, should be fully respected. Nevertheless, people have different interests of different majors, this might help to explain where your friends’ questions come from. Even though few girls choose engineering as their major, women are dominating majors such as studying education. Therefore, the small number of female students in engineering is basically because of the difference of preferences and interests between men and women. Moreover, the comparison of achievements between US women and men’s soccer team is not comprehensive and therefore convincing enough. Although the US women’s soccer team is more successful than men’s, it is not enough to prove that women are doing as well as men do on the soccer field. If this example is right, how to explain those countries whose women’s soccer teams have not been as successful as their men’s teams yet, such as Spain, France, and England？It is true that US women’s soccer team currently is the best in the women’s soccer world, but it is also incomparable that women’s soccer players are doing as good as men do in playing soccer because there will never be a match between women and men. The only thing that is convincing enough to show the different situations in men and women’s soccer is the objective data and responses from the market.
In addition, the most essential cause for women’s soccer to be underpaid than men’s is the lack of attention. Due to different types of body conditions, things start to be in a circle. There are more people watching men’s soccer over women. 3.572 billion people witnessed a wonderful world cup that was hosted in Russia last summer, on the contrary, the prediction of nearly a billion viewers for the women’s world cup seems to be relatively lower. Knowing the basic principles of investment, investors are more likely to devote their money to the place where possesses more attentions to make money. As a result, women could not be equally supported with finance, which is the source for their salaries.
The other reason that contributes to why women get lower pay associates with clubs. It is interesting to note that even though about a billion people have been following this tournament, there are still some empty seats in almost every match. This is the women’s world cup, what about other games in regular seasons? Being one of the most essential sources of the income, if the seats could not be sited full and the tickets could not be sold out, there is not enough money for clubs in paying the high salaries of players.
Problems like the lack of audience and speculators lead to the shortage of funds, which makes it impossible for women to earn the same salary as men do. Difficulties that the entire women’s soccer world is facing are fundamental, that raising “their dollars” from fans and getting “public supports” are too superficial to solve the problem.
To sum up, the inequity in women’s soccer is not simply caused by gender discrimination as your comment suggest. There is no denying that we should provide women soccer players respects and supports which they deserve in the first place. Yet this issue is so complicated that we should also objectively look at the core of the problem, which is the shortage of attention. Solving the core issue is the only way for women soccer players to play in a fair world. Hope to see a well-developed system for women’s soccer in the recent future!
One major takeaway from this article is the repeated use of the word “equity”. Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful. Equality is treating everyone the same. Equality aims to promote fairness, but it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same help. Equity appears unfair, but it actively moves everyone closer to success by “levelling the playing field.”
What this implies that in this initial stage, greater funds should be allocated to women’s football as compared to the conventional men’s football, as the former is still in the early stages of its development. This can be further substantiated by the growing number of viewers of the game, a sure sign of its increasing popularity.
The viewer base for women’s football is expanding day by day, and with this increased viewership comes the possibility of increased commercialisation of the game, something that is predominant in men’s football. Big corporates can capitalise on this new development and invest more in the game. This would not be entirely altruistic in nature as the brands can and will benefit from their expanded sphere of influence, along with the cementation of women’s football has a global event.
As a result, the recognition of women football players would increase dramatically, automatically generating more pay and giving them greater power to argue for their cause of gender inequality. This would be a huge step forward for not only women in football but also for women struggling with gender pay gaps all over the world.