Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would’ve heard the recent dissatisfied musings of many a female about the gender pay gap in the work place.
November 9th last year market Equal Pay Day – but the connotations of this aren’t as ‘fair practice focussed’ and ‘feminist’ as they may first appear. This day was coined ‘Equal Pay’ not because it marked women’s attainment of earnings to rival that of their male counterparts, but on the contrary because from this day onwards to the New Year, womankind were effectively working for free. Their pay package compared to that of a male in the same position was over a month’s worth of work lighter; unbelievable and completely inexplicable – yet true.
As shocking as this blatant workplace sexism is, it is becoming evident that the glass ceiling is – albeit not completely shattered – but being chipped away at; David Cameron has vowed to ‘end the gender pay gap in a generation’, and set out new rules forcing every company that employs more than 250 people to publish the difference between the average pay of its male and female employees.
The same however cannot be said for gender equality in sports, which is still a very real, alive and kicking issue which the larger news organisations are failing to address.
I for one feel like the long running gender issues in sport stem from way back in the primary school playground, where the little boys played with footballs and little girls – well – didn’t.
Fast forward to secondary school PE, where the majority of my female friends wined or excused themselves with ‘women’s problems’ in order to escape playing any sort of sport, and I think we’ve found the route of the problem.
The few keen sporty girls that did exist in my class , the ones who lived for sports day, are no doubt the ones who grew into the sports women of our generation – and hence the ones suffering at the hands of the excruciatingly unfair bias towards men in professional sport.
It is evident just by looking at statistics that sportsmen are appreciated a hell of a lot more than their female counterparts – simply due to the fact that they have a pair of testicles. A recent BBC Sport study into prize money found 30% of sports reward men more highly than women.
Louis Cooper, Head content writer for Golfsupport.com told me ‘I’m ashamed to say golf is one of the worst offenders in sport when it comes to the pay gap. Just take the Golf US Open as an example – the male winner will be rewarded with a hefty 1m whilst his female counterpart will only receive £452,000 – that’s less than half’.
Golf isn’t the only sport with statistics like this; This season's men's FA Cup winners, a competition watched in more than 120 countries, will secure £1.8m in prize money while the team who lift the Women's Cup will net just £5,000.
And it’s not just the size of the net pay packet that differs between a male and female sports professional; male stars are much more sought after for lucrative sponsorship deals, advertising opportunities and will generally be recipients of a whole lot more media attention than female sportswomen. Unless of course that female has aesthetic attributes than place her in some sort of women’s magazine for her ‘hot body’ or ‘killer beauty regime’.
It is often argued that women’s sport isn’t as ‘serious’ as men’s; The Football Association has said men's and women's football are incomparable, describing them as "polar opposites" in global reach.
Yes, men’s professional sport generates a lot more public interest, and isn’t by any stretch of the imagination as widely watched, and whilst this is indisputable, the large fan base for men’s sport is largely due to the platform it is given; women are rarely invited to share said platform in the majority of sports.
I think however exhausting campaigning on this issue is, the breaking of the glass ceiling in the work place with regard to the gender pay gap is proof that there is room for improvement when it comes to sport, too.
After all, women put the same blood, sweat and tears into their chosen sport as men do – and they deserve the same recognition and acknowledgement, not only in the form of monetary compensation but in appreciation and respect.
photos Janos Schmidt
photos Janos Schmidt