Soccer and cricket don’t treat female players on a par with their male counterparts when it comes to appearance fee or prize purse. Even though 83% sports disciplines have bridged this gap.
Sport has the power to transcend boundaries of race, religion, gender and nationality. Women in sport defy gender stereotypes; make inspiring role models, and show men and women as equals.
Women are more visible in sport now than ever before: Of a total of 997 athletes, only 22 women competed, for the first time, at the 1900 Games in Paris. The London 2012 Olympics was the first Games in which women competed in every sport of the Olympic programme. In Rio, approximately 4,700 women – 45% of all athletes—represented their countries in 306 events.
But, do sport authorities provide women with same facilities, rewards and recognition as their mail counterparts? Has the gender pay gap improved or declined? The answer, to a major extent, lies in the study conducted by BBC commissioned for Women’s Sport Week.
The study suggests that 83% of sports now reward men and women equally.
BBC reached out to 68 governing bodies out of which 55 responded to researchers and of those, 44 sports pay prize money. Two of those sports (synchronised swimming and nordic combined) see men and women compete alongside each other, and of the remaining 42, 35 pay prize money in equal measures – making up for a healthy 83% rate.
The study thus reveals that the pay gap has narrowed vastly in recent years, with rewards in women’s sports on the rise.
While an increasing number of sports like squash, surfing, badminton, archery, canoeing and various other athletics see equal prize money, financially lucrative disciplines like football, Cricket and golf show some of the biggest disparities. Although, prize money for women has increased substantially in these sports over the past.
Football, which has provided with richest players in the world in form of Ronaldo and Messi, has not been able to produce female icons. The football events like Premier league, Champions League and FIFA World Cup have been discriminatory when it comes to providing prize money.
While Chelsea received £38m for Premier league title, the women league currently has no prize purses. In Champions league too, Real Madrid were given £13.5m while Lyon, the winners of the women’s Champions League, gained just £219,920. Same is the case with FIFA in which women winners receive just £2m, compared to the men, who win £35m.
The female golfers are among the highest earners in elite sport, still golf also had a significant payment disparity. The male winner in the men’s US Open pockets £1.8m, which is twice as much the winners’ pay packet for women’s category in the same tournament.
In cricket, the prize money for ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 will see a 10-fold increase – up from £150,000 to £1.5m. The victorious cricket team will receive £470,000. However, it’s just incomparable to men’s team. The prize pot for winning men’s team at the 2019 World Cup will be six times at £3.1m.
Tennis was the first sport to pay equal prize money when the US Open started doing so in 1973. By 2004 Athletics, bowls, skating, marathons, shooting, and volleyball all paid equal prize money. Since 2004, a further 12 sports have started doing so.
Prize money for league is based on the number of competitors involved, which means the men’s events award more because more men are competing. However, as many industries have increasingly recognized women widen perspectives, brought in new ideas and innovations there is still a long way to go before we will see full equality in the world of sport.