The fight for women’s equality in sports is an on-going and persistent uphill battle, but many strong and courageous females are not backing down. As the fight for equality continues, we can thank legendary tennis champion Billie Jean King who kick-started the movement during the 1970s. In 1973, King threatened to boycott the U.S. Open over pay disparity. Her boycott was successful, and that same year the U.S Open instituted equal pay for men and women. King is also the founder and president of the Women’s Tennis Association and continues her fight for women’s rights. Currently, tennis is leading the charge as the most profitable sport for women and the one with the narrowest gender pay gap.
The fight for gender equality has made tremendous progress in the past few decades. In 2017, the women’s U.S hockey team joined the movement and threatened to boycott the world championship if U.S.A Hockey did not increase the player’s wages. Their act of courage and strength paid off. They made a four-year deal which included increased monthly training stipends, larger winning bonuses, and travel and insurance provisions equal to the men’s national team.
The World Surf League announced that they would award equal prize money to men and women in 2018. The predominantly male sport had previously been awarding men higher pay as well as more event and award opportunities within the sport. A group of female surfers founded the Commission for Equity in Women’s Surfing (CEWS) in 2016, which jump-started their fight for equality in surfing. The CEWS continues to advocate for equality, equal access, inclusion, and equal pay.
In 2019, after the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) took home the FIFA Women’s World Cup, they took a stand against the gender pay gap. The USWNT brought this issue to the public’s attention when 28 of the players filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation for gender discrimination. The women’s team has secured four titles and placed top three in every World Cup since the start of the tournament while the U.S Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) played fewer games, failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018 and still get paid significantly more than the women.
Many fans and supporters are being educated about the pay disparity in sports as the athletes are speaking out. The USWNT took home the winning title at the 2019 World Cup, but it was more than just a win; their victory also raised even greater visibility to the public surrounding the issue of the gender pay gap in sports.
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