Gender Pay Gap In Sports


Professional sport is an industry where, more than any other, we see a difference in how much men and women are paid. Lavishly rewarded with high wages and bumper sponsorship packages, several sports have watched the men’s game grow whilst neglecting the women’s side of sport.       
Ultimately, they all show the same level of passion, dedication, and skill when competing. This was the principle taken by Boost in their recent analysis of the gender pay gap in professional sports. Take the basic salary earned and divide by the minutes spent competing, and you get a picture of how much more top male stars earn when playing exactly the same sport as their female counterparts.

football is a major offender

Football may be the UK’s national sport, but it upholds a significant sports-based gender pay gap.
Analysis of the top leagues in the men’s and women’s game show that, when compared to men, the average female player earns 47 times less for every minute they play. Based on the average salary for the league, an FA Women’s Super League player would earn £16.72 per minute if they played every minute throughout the season. For male players in the Premier League, the figure stands at £772.66 per minute.  
Across the league, male players are rewarded significantly more than women for competing in their elite leagues. This point is further emphasised when you look at the pay-per-minute of top players.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi earned £15,048 for every minute he spent on the pitch for his Catalonian club in the 2017/18 season. Leading female footballer Alex Morgan collected just £431 for every minute she spent on the pitch for US club Orlando Pirates, 35 times less.
Take another of the world’s most handsomely paid male sports stars – Neymar. He earned £22,364 for every minute at French side Paris St. Germain during the 2017/18 season. Fellow Brazilian Marta, recently named as the fourth best female player on the planet, earned 99 times less per minute at £225.
In football, your gender plays a significant role in the level at which you are idolised, adored and, ultimately, paid.

us sports tell the same story

The research also focused in on one of the biggest sports from across the Atlantic,  basketball. Despite being run by the same body, the NBA (National Basketball Association), the differences in money earned for competing in, and winning, the male and female versions of the competition are vast.
Working on the same principle as football’s top leagues, the average WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) player earns just 2.5% of the average male NBA player. A WNBA average salary of £57,000 pales in comparison to the men’s figure of almost £5.5 million.
Again, the gap widens when you take the pay of the outstanding players from each league. Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry earned £26.6 million for 2,186 minutes on the court during the 2017-18 season. At £12,190 for every minute, his pay per minute far outstretches any player in the WNBA.
Take Candace Parker. Her salary is capped at just over £87,000 by the league salary cap. After completing 1,279 minutes of court time, she earned her salary at £68.19 – 179 times less than that of Curry.
Aside from salary, bonuses are heavily skewed towards winning the men’s competition. After winning the 2016 NBA Championship final, £2.06 million was handed out amongst the winning roster (at around £140,000 per player). For winning the top prize in women’s basketball, a player will earn a bonus of around £8,300.

tennis sets an example to be followed

Tennis is a more shining example of how sport can equalise the merits of men and women. Each of the four major tournaments now hands out the same winnings to their male and female champions. Holding the male and female competitions during the same period also promotes cross-viewing, building excitement and interest in the sport no matter the gender of those competing.
As a result, tennis is home to some of the most celebrated female sports stars. After years of domination, Serena Williams takes her place among the legends of the sport, and, from a financial perspective, her achievements are not downplayed or sidelined. For winning an elite competition such as Wimbledon or the US Open, she is rewarded as handsomely as the winner of the male competition.

The nature of sport doesn’t change based on the gender of those competing. It takes sacrifice and application to call yourself the best in the world at something. When competing in the same league or competition, sport shouldn’t place a higher reward on male player achievement than that of women. For some of the world’s most aspirational sports, work is still to be done.  

 Natalia Sketchley

Twitter: @Naty_Kingsbury

The ConveHERsation is the digital platform for Women Of Power UK

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