When Megan Rapinoe performed her ultimate match for the U.S. ladies’s nationwide crew this previous September, I believed again to that landmark 2016 lawsuit she led—together with teammates Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo and Becky Sauerbrunn—for pay fairness in ladies’s soccer.
They endured in opposition to million-dollar lobbying campaigns, costly counter-lawsuits, and harsh assaults on social media, and so they scored a giant end result. However what they achieved impacts excess of the salaries of elite athletes. It’s serving to to vary the dialog about financial justice in each career. 9 out of ten occupations, from retail to enterprise to skilled sports activities, proceed to pay ladies lower than males on common.
The gamers’ lawsuit in opposition to the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) led to a historic settlement in 2022 on a brand new 50-50 cut up that pays ladies and men on the nationwide soccer groups the identical wage and prize cash, together with collaborating at FIFA World Cups, in addition to returning $22 million in again pay to the ladies’s crew gamers.
The soccer gamers’ lengthy years of battle with their employer and the game’s nationwide governing physique made this crew an inspiration and a useful resource for different ladies’s sports activities organizations within the U.S. and across the globe. Ice hockey gold medalists, Canadian soccer professionals, and WNBA gamers turned to america Nationwide Ladies’s Group (USNWT) and its union throughout their fights for higher contracts. The nationwide groups from Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands gained commitments for pay fairness.
In tennis, the US Open, the one one of many 4 Grand Slam tournaments, has supplied equal prize cash since 1973. And now, the Ladies’s Tennis Affiliation, pushed by Billie Jean King for almost 50 years, is dedicated to equal pay and the identical match purses for main males’s and girls’s tennis occasions by 2033.
However that is only the start. Pay fairness in sports activities have to be widened to deal with the efforts for financial justice throughout the board as a result of gender points are woven into each side of inequality.
Sports activities can encourage, encourage, and form requirements of conduct. To make sure that these influences transcend the enjoying subject, all of us should not solely commit however endeavor to gender equality at each degree.
Nonetheless in the present day, ladies make solely 80 cents for each greenback earned by males, and this pay hole is even wider for ladies of coloration, who earn solely 68 cents for each greenback earned by a white man.
Immediately’s conversations about pay fairness in sports activities and different professions are vital as a result of they spotlight how gender shapes energy—who has it, who’s saved from it, and the way it’s wielded to guard a privileged few.
Closing the pay fairness hole in sports activities won’t change the stereotypes that also discriminate in opposition to ladies for pursuing sure sports activities, like soccer, or double requirements about sports activities uniforms, just like the Norwegian ladies’s seashore handball crew that was fined for refusing to put on bikini bottoms, or the Welsh Paralympian who was informed her briefs have been “too quick and inappropriate.” It won’t change the racism and abuse Black athletes like Serena Williams face when competing in a predominantly white sport for a way they conduct themselves on and off the sector.
That’s the reason I’m so dedicated to intersectional feminism and financial justice. And that dedication is urgently wanted within the office, the boardroom, and within the halls of Congress.
This dedication begins with Congress lastly passing the Paycheck Equity Act, which is able to assist make sure that staff are paid the identical quantity for a similar work.
Amongst different provisions, this Act would prohibit employers from utilizing wage historical past, which might set ladies on a path of being underpaid by means of the remainder of their profession; require employers to show any pay disparities are a “enterprise necessity” or “job-related;” and replace class motion lawsuit provisions to make it simpler to fight systemic sex-based wage discrimination.
This laws will get the ball rolling for equal pay. And whereas consideration is lastly being paid to ladies’s sports activities, ladies are nonetheless not paid what they deserve. Megan Rapinoe is aware of it, and he or she proved it in court docket. We all know it and should use our collective energy, from the soccer stadiums to the C-suites to the tennis courts to the restaurant kitchens, to demand equal pay for equal work.
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