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Women’s Sport: Not just unequal pay

The gender pay gap spans almost every industry, and sports is no different. When it comes to women’s sport and female athletes there is always talk about equal pay because historically female athletes are paid less. But that will always be the case if women’s sports aren’t marketed properly.

The focus of the conversation is typically about how women make less than men, the unfairness of the inequality despite the equal amount of work they put in, and how female athletes often have to work full-time jobs on top of full-time athletes. Even though a large number of sports, such as tennis and athletics, reward men and women equal prize money, many female athletes are still not earning as much as their male counterparts.

It’s not only unequal pay for playing but also unequal pay for marketing female sports too. We are told that this is because attention to women’s sport is lower and far less entertaining to go to, meaning they generate less money.

According to a study by the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Centre for Research on Girls and Women in Sport in 2014, up to 4% of sports media coverage went to female sports, despite 40% of all participants were female.

Cricket, golf and football are among the worst offenders for unequal pay. In golf, men in the US Open compete for a chance to take home almost £1.1 million, twice as much the prize money for the female champion. Meanwhile, in cricket a victorious male team at the World Cup can make almost seven times more than the women’s side.

The US women’s soccer team has brought the conversation to the centre stage over the last three years. After they won the World Cup in 2015, it was discovered that the US women’s team were paid a quarter of what the men earned, despite the women generating $20 million more than the men that year.

Despite all of this, there are many ways that organisations are making positive changed to narrow the gap between genders. Tennis is usually celebrated for this after all four Grand Slam tournaments established equal prize money to the men and the women in 2007.

In 2017, The Norwegian FA has announced that both men and women teams will receive equal pay for playing international football. Upon a request from the FA, the men’s side agreed to cut £57,000 from their marketing deal and donate this cut to their female counterparts. The FA  also decided to invest a further £276,000 into the women’s side, almost doubling their salary for international matches.

There are many other sports that have been paying equivalent prizes including shooting, volleyball, diving, and taekwondo, as well as some cycling events.

Women’s sport and elite female athletes need equal investment for these barriers to be brought down. The gender pay gap is a real issue in sport as it is in business and not one that should be ignored but the topic is irrelevant if female athletes do not have the same opportunity to prove their worth.

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