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Let's Talk About Sex

12/04/2016 15:59

Five female athletes have accused the United States Soccer Federation of wage discrimination, revealing that they earn 40% less than their counterparts on the US men's national team despite having won three World Cup championships and four Olympic gold medals; an accomplishment yet to be realized by the men.

Now, we all know that paving the way for gender equality has not come without its obstacles but it is astounding that this huge salary discrepancy is in the public domain and yet has not generated the media attention or Twitter uproar usually reserved for female celebrities who share a naked selfie.

Data analysed by Ohio University and the Women's Sports Foundation recently revealed that the maximum player salary cap in the Men's Soccer League is 12 times more than women and professional female golfers earn 17 cents on the dollar versus the Bubba Watsons of the world.

Need more of an incentive to feel aghast?

In some cases, men coaching women's basketball teams earn $43,000 more than WOMEN coaching women's teams. It appears that even when teaching athletes of the same gender, women are still handed corrosive contracts and salary packages on a macro scale.

Persistent inequities and discriminatory practices directed at women in sports - and in any field - reinforce the systemic devaluing of girls and women and is why we continually need to fight for access and equality.

If the governing bodies of each athletic field continue to run it like a business, then you are only as good as the strength of your 'employees'. How are you expected to grow your business when college athletes and young girls with untapped potential can only look forward to being undermined on such a grand scale?

Financial reward needs to tally with the investment from the athletes.

If you work at a department store selling electronics and your male colleagues don't sell more products than you, perform different tasks than you, or work different hours than you but still earn twice the wage cap of all female employees put together, you have the right to do more than burn your bra. Such is the challenge faced by women in Hollywood, as described by Jennifer Lawrence in her essay and the Women's National Basketball Association - Kobe Byrant's $25MM salary is more than twice the WNBA salary cap in its entirety.

To hit it home even more, the WNBA team salary cap is 1.5% of the NBA camp - $1MM vs $65MM. Whether it's National Governing Body sponsored teams, same tournament sports such as the Association of Tennis Professionals, even leagues that are separate entities but celebrate the same sport such as the WNBA vs NBA; it's still an unacceptable practice.

According to research, when large numbers of women enter a male-dominated field, the pay drops. Another great message to the public on the value of women and perhaps the reason why there are only four female athletic directors at 124 of the top US college athletic programs.

To withhold equal pay in sports is to attack female athleticism, a visible support of misogyny if you will, giving fodder to obsolete pundits who hate women's sports based on old-fashioned principles; as derelict as the stadiums they try to force the US Soccer team to play on.

We need more than grandiose gestures to make an impact. We require a vanguard collective of sports associations to cause major upheaval. A change in the dynamics of salary structure and re-design of bonus incentives for all genders should not be an outdated concept.

Deborah Slaner Larkin, CEO of the Women's Sports Foundation commented:

"The Women's Sports Foundation stands beside all female athletes demanding equal pay and fair treatment from their sports' governing bodies. It is astonishing that in 2016 we are still fighting for the right of female athletes to receive the same pay for the same energy, commitment and time invested in their sports."

Clearly we've moved past the stage of empathy and quiet reflection on the regulations that allowed it to get this far. We like to be a witness to a mandatory halt on wage segregation.

To do nothing is a sign of compliance to sexism.

Have the guts and do something and if you don't have any; borrow those of the US Women's Soccer team.

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