If you are a working woman, gender-pay-gap is something you have probably learnt to live with. There is only so much one can do, right? But sometimes we must keep fighting, a lot of battles before we eventually win the war someday. Gender-pay-gap exists in every sphere of life as we know it. It is a blatant reality, a shameful reality. It is a reality where women are on the receiving end, unfortunately, make it more personal. Gender Pay Gap exists in sports too.
Today, I want to share with you one such story where gender-pay-gap fuelled an epic fightback which in many ways is still on. But before that, to the women who think gender-pay-gap doesn’t exist because you are paid well (and I know there are many for they let me know everytime I speak of it), think again. When you are the exception, it’s an anomaly and sadly not a rule. It’s turning this anomaly into a rule which is the goal.
Did you know Gender Pay Gap exists in sports too?
Gender Pay Gap in Sports
Then 29-year-old Billie Jean King defeats a 55-year-old Bobby Riggs in an exhibition match termed as the Battle of the Sexes which stems from the pay gap that existed in the prize money for male and female tennis players. It is significant because it was instrumental in the US Open rolling out pay parity in that very year.
However, just a year before that Billie Jean King actually earned only 40% of what the male champion earned on winning the same tournament. In fact, a few years earlier Margaret Court won a Grand Slam and received only a $15,000 bonus, whereas the men could achieve up to $1 million? This and various other events such this lead finally to the formation of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and to the debate around the variance in prize money for male and female tennis players. Of course, in 1973 the US Open did away with the gender pay gap but it took a long time for the other major tennis grand slam tournaments to do the same. The Australian Open did the same in 2001, the French Open in 2006 and finally Wimbledon in the year 2007 (source).
But there are still miles to go before this issue is settled in every sport.
Did you know that the highest-paid male tennis professional, Novak Djokovic, has taken home $108.8 million but won only 12 grand slam titles? Now the top-earning Serena Williams has only pocketed some $81.7 million in prize money since the start of her career with a record 39 grand slam titles. See the gender-pay-gap? (Source here)
I can’t even begin to imagine what might be the gender pay gap when it comes to the men’s and women’s cricket team in India. But looks like while the male players in Grade C category earn Rs 1 crore per annum, the female players – even after being in Grade A – are restricted to just Rs 50 lakhs. So, gender-pay-gap is a reality in sports too. Apparently, our best grade is only equal to the worst in males.
Of course, there are misogynists who argue that men’s sports have the biggest draw. more advertisements and greater returns. Why Djokovic is among those claiming men should “fight for more” because privilege is their right on account of their anatomy, right! But here’s the thing, the best venus, broadcasters and investment in every sport seem to be perpetually booked for the men. Question is, why isn’t the same done for women’s sports too? Put in equal investment and then argue based on returns.
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Play fair. If it’s the same sports, pay the players equally. If it’s the same tournament, pay the players equally and not deal women a bad hand because of their gender.
“Legislators, priests, philosophers, writers, and scientists have striven to show that the subordinate position of woman is willed in heaven and advantageous on earth.”
― Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
Women are not inferior or less deserving. It’s just that years and years of apathy and lack of equal opportunity has led us to a point when we have to prove that we are deserving of an equal opportunity. We now stand at a point in human history when we have to justify taking what is rightfully ours because our anatomy has been promoted as weak and secondary, thereby less deserving by another of the same species whose virility remains permanently attached to women remaining below par.
So, the fact is the battle of the sexes is still going on in sports, at work and in life. Question is, are you rooting for the side that deserves to win? Remember, every step and every word of support counts, even those touted as insignificant.
This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.
Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.