Why the Chants of Equal Pay at the Women’s World Cup Matter
“Equal pay! Equal pay! Equal pay!” I never thought I’d hear a stadium chant these words at a sporting event. But on Sunday it happened after the US Women’s National Team won the World Cup for the second time in a row and record-breaking fourth time overall.
The team’s training, skills, and beautiful footwork kept them in the lead the entire tournament. But it was their courage, unity, and commitment that made it possible for them to rise above the rest of the field. And let’s not forget the leadership demonstrated by co-captains Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Megan Rapinoe as well as coach Jill Ellis.
All their hard work paid off!
Except, it didn’t. Just as women all over the country only make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, the USWNT makes a lot less than the men’s team.
- According to The Guardian, each player on the USWNT will take away around $200,000 for winning the World Cup. If the men’s team had won last year, each player would have earned over $1.1 million—but they didn’t even qualify.
- In 2014, the men’s team received $5.375 million for losing in the round of 16, while the 2015 women’s team only got $1.725 million for winning the tournament—that’s only 33 cents for every dollar the men made!
The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) has justified this gap by pointing to FIFA’s unequal prize money: a $30 million purse for the 2019 Women’s World Cup and a $400 million purse for the 2018 Men’s World Cup. The USSF has also said that the pay gap is “based on differences in aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex.” But in the last three years, women’s games have actually generated more money ($50.8 million) than men’s games ($49.9 million). And, the USWNT jersey is the best-selling soccer jersey, men’s or women’s, ever sold on Nike.com in one season.
Like many hardworking women across the US, the USWNT are stars who produce results—and revenue—for their employers. So why aren’t they compensated fairly?
Catalyst’s infographic on the double bind women suffer at work describes what we’re seeing here very clearly: “Women leaders are held to a higher standard for competency and often reap smaller rewards from men.” The double bind is proof that much as we might like to think our society operates as a meritocracy, it does not. The many talents of women, and especially women of color, are diminished, questioned, and undervalued every day at many workplaces—and organizations that use their power to maintain the status quo are a big part of the problem.
Like sexual harassment, this issue is often swept under the rug, ignored, or denied. But it’s impossible to deny that something is embarrassingly and enormously wrong when the men’s team makes more when it loses than the women do when they win. Even the US men’s player’s union agrees!
And while this team is tough, knows its value, and is standing up for what is fair—they shouldn’t have to. Organizations should be proactively assessing their systems, processes, and salary practices to close the wage gap. Catalyst has a broad range of tools that can help. Here are a few:
- Blog post: Employers: Fix the Pay Gap, or You’ll Be Left Behind
- Tool: Break the Cycle—HR Experts: Eliminating Gender Bias From the Recruitment Process
- Infographic: Break the Cycle—Eliminating Gender Bias in Talent Management Systems
- Infographic: How to Combat Unconscious Bias as an Individual
- Infographic: How to Combat Unconscious Bias as a Leader in Your Organization
- Quick Take: Women’s Earnings—The Wage Gap
Later this morning, I can’t wait to hear the “Equal pay!” rallying cry when the Ticker Tape Parade makes its way down the Canyon of Heroes, just a few blocks from Catalyst’s headquarters in downtown Manhattan. I’ll be shouting with them, and I hope you will too—victory for all women on equal pay will be even sweeter than any World Cup.
President & CEO
Catalyst’s vision and mission have been a passion for Lorraine Hariton since college. Lorraine’s career has benefited tremendously from Catalyst’s work, and she is honored to lead the organization at this crucial time, to pay it forward to future generations, and to help write the next chapter in its 56-year…