These Two Sports Are Paving the Way for Gender Equality

Gender equality in athletes’ pay has been a popular topic of discussion lately. Especially with the run that the U.S. Women’s National Team made in the Women’s World Cup, eventually winning the tournament.

While the ladies on that team may not make as much as their male counterparts, there are a couple of sports that are looking to be trendsetters regarding equal pay for men and women.

Women’s tennis

Tennis is one of the few sports in which females can become more famous than the men. That means they can not only earn a lot in endorsement money, but the tour also pays the ladies as much as the men.

The sport’s four Grand Slam tournaments payout equal prize money to men and women. That may be one reason why Serena Williams was the only woman on Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes in 2017.

Getting gender equality in tennis wasn’t easy, though, as Wimbledon didn’t relent until 2007 after Venus Williams fought for equal pay. It’s even more impressive that the ladies get equal pay because they play best three-of-three matches, while the men play best-of-five.

Professional surfing

Surfing isn’t usually thought of as a professional sport. However, there is money to be made for the people who are at the top of the sport. And whether you’re a man or a woman, you’ll get paid the same amount.

Last year, surfing’s governing body announced that it would give all surfers — regardless of gender — equal pay in all events, starting this year.

World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt called it “a huge step forward’ in the organization’s “long-planned strategy to elevate women’s surfing.” There had been a significant gap in payouts between the genders.

In last year’s WSL events in Australia last year, for example, the men’s winner earned $100,000, while the women’s winner made just $65,000. That’s 35 percent less.

California’s State Lands Commission made equal pay a requirement for the WSL to receive permits to hold its annual big wave competition at Mavericks. Although to be fair, the league has said that ruling did not have a direct effect on the decision to cut the pay gap.

Women’s World Cup controversy

With the U.S. earning its second straight Women’s World Cup title earlier this month, people are calling for the women to earn equal pay as the men’s team. That rallying cry is especially loud now that the Women’s National Team has had more success recently than the Men’s National Team has.

During the women’s team’s victory parade through New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to expand the state’s equal pay laws to prohibit a difference in pay “on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work.” During the ticker-tape parade, fans started an “equal pay!” chant, as did fans who were at the recent World Cup in France.

Women’s National Team lawsuit

All 28 members of the Women’s National Team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation in March. They said that they are paid less than the men’s team despite having the same responsibilities.

As part of the class-action suit, which was filed in federal court in Los Angeles, the players were seeking equal pay. Plus additional damages that include back pay.

The USSF has previously said that the pay gap is largely due to labor agreements it has made with the teams’ respective players’ associations. The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association, for its part, is not part of the team’s lawsuit against the USSF, but the WNTPA has said that it “supports the plaintiffs’ goal of eliminating gender-based discrimination by the USSF.”

Hopefully, women’s soccer will follow the lead set by tennis and professional surfing. It remains a story worth following even well after the excitement of the World Cup dies down.