There are many iconic women in the sports world. There are Venus and Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, Danica Patrick, Lisa Lesli, and Abby Wambach, to name a few. Despite there being many iconic women in sports, women are not praised as much as their male counterparts. In fact, like in the real world, women and men do not play on the same field in the sports world—both figuratively and literally.
It is no secret that women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women. “In 2015, female full-time, year-round workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent” (Institute for Women’s Policy Research). Women also earn less than their male counterparts in the sports world. In fact, the gap between men and women salaries in elite sports is much wider than 20%. In 2015, the LPGA (The Ladies Professional Golf Association) offered a total of $61.6 million in prize money. That same year the PGA (Professional Golf Association) awarded $320 million, which is more than five times the amount the LPGA awarded. Similarly, the league minimum in the NBA last season was $525,000, whereas the WNBA league minimum last season was $38,000. The only sport that has an ounce of humanity is tennis. Tennis is also the only sport to place women on the Forbes’s “World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes” list. This is because prize money that tennis gives out is equal for men and women at all four grand-slam events, which are the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Why is there a huge pay gap between men and women in elite sports? Personally, I don’t really have an answer, besides the fact that the world we live in is not fair. This answer is not desirable, so I am going to play devil’s advocate. My devil’s advocate answer is that male sports attract more eyes than woman sports. As far as basketball goes fans go to more NBA games than WNBA games and the same holds true for fans viewing the games at home on their televisions. This may be a reason why ESPN and Turner Sports pay the NBA a combined $2.6 billion annually to televise the NBA, whereas only ESPN pays the WNBA $12 million annually for rights fees according to Newsweek. Looking back on my own sports viewing habits, I definitely watch more male sports than female sports. To be honest, the only time I watch female sports is during the Olympics and when the U.S women’s soccer team has big games. The bigger question is, if women’s sports became as popular as men’s sports, would the pay be more equal between the two genders?