Headlines are emerging today that the U.S Women’s Soccer team has filed a lawsuit against U.S Soccer for wage discrimination based on gender. Looking at the facts, the women’s team is paid 1,400 dollars less, 6,816 less for bonus wins, and less for other bonuses and sponsored appearances. Overall, this accounts for women being paid 40% less than their male counter-parts.
Upon reading this you might think, incorrectly, “Well…..The women’s soccer team doesn’t have as many viewers as the men’s soccer team and they don’t take in as much revenue, so it makes sense the women’s team is paid less.” If you thought either of those notions, you would be drastically wrong, on both accounts: The women’s team generated more viewership in their most recent World Cup game and the women’s team generates more revenue, particularly looking at projections into coming years.
As NPR states, the most recent women’s World Cup was watched by “23 million viewers, making it the most watched soccer game in American TV history.” The most watched soccer game in American TV history: Not the most watched soccer game in women’s soccer: The most watched soccer game in U.S history. That means they exceeded viewership in the U.S of any male-soccer-game to date. In-fact, the women’s team far exceeded the most watched men’s game by 200,000 viewers.
And secondly, the women’s team is projected to take in 5 million dollars of profit, whereas the men’s team is projected to actually lose money: 1 million dollars worth of loss to be exact. And yet, the women’s team is getting paid significantly less.
As Hope Solo, the U.S Women’s Soccer team goalie, said “We continue to be told we should be grateful just to have the opportunity to play professional soccer, and to get paid for doing it..In this day and age, it’s about equality. It’s about equal rights, it’s about equal pay.”
Yeah…Women should just be grateful to be permitted, by the dominant class, to participate in the world around them. Well screw that! And hell yeah, U.S women’s soccer team, for fighting for the right be be equally compensated!
We also need to have conversations revolving around other sports as well. For example, in basketball N.C.A.A tournaments, as the New York Times reports, “the [men’s] winning team rakes in $1.56 million for its conference. By contrast, the N.C.A.A women’s tournament, which began in 1982, awards zero dollars for winning a game.” Zero. Wow.
As we know, soccer is not a sport in which the men’s team draws more viewership: The women’s team in-fact draws in more, despite the wage disparity. But the New York Times discusses how indeed, there are times when men’s sports teams generate more viewership and therefore compensation can reflect that. That makes sense to me. But if women’s sports are continually belittled, and not accessible to watch on main stations, then women’s sports will continue to have less viewership. But lack of viewership in women’s sports, compared to the men’s version of the sport, as the New York Times continues, “…is not true for every sport. Women’s figure skating, for instance, has often drawn higher television ratings and bigger crowds than men’s figure skating.” I would be curious to see how much women figure skaters get paid compared to their male counterparts.