The effects of the $24 million settlement reached between the the US Women's National Team (USWNT) and the US Soccer Federation (USSF) are resonating this Women’s History Month. The spotlighted case began in 2019 “when 28 USWNT players signed onto a gender discrimination lawsuit filed under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act” due to receiving inferior pay and working conditions compared to the US Men’s National Team, CNN reports.
This victory is long overdue. Players have been vocal about the inequalities between men’s and women’s athletic divisions for years. Notably, in 2016 five USWNT players filed a wage complaint. Their grievance was justified, considering the USSF 2015 financial report indicated the women’s team generated about $20 million more in revenue than the men’s team, but female players were paid roughly four times less than their male counterparts.
Watching USWNT members finally receive their just compensation is inspiring female athletes nationwide, as most can relate to experiencing gender-based discrimination on and off the field. Players from the University at Albany women’s soccer team commented to SpectrumNews1 that they view the settlement as historic, but there is more work to be done. From the college level to professional leagues, female athletes receive comparatively less recognition despite their abilities.
Bridgette Quimpo, Ramapo College’s own women’s softball coach, recently wrote an article for NJ.com in honor of National Girls & Women in Sports Day and the 50th anniversary of Title IX. “Progress is being made,” Quimpo wrote, relating her observations from nine years of working at the college to how the landmark ruling has opened doors. The 10 women’s sports offered at Ramapo have attracted over 150 female students to participate.
“Title IX changed my life,” Quimpo continued, “making it possible for me to build a career in sports where I can inspire, mentor and guide future woman leaders to positions of success.” Still, there is room for improvement. She quoted the 2019 Female Leaders in Sports Survey, “60% of women in sports report being paid less money for doing the same job as a man.”
Pay inequality is not limited to one profession — let alone one sport — and many notable figures and organizations are using Women’s History Month to raise awareness surrounding the issue.
On March 1, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) partnered with the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Teacher’s Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) to highlight how the pandemic has worsened the disparity by causing nearly 2 million women to leave the workforce since 2020. The Mercer 2021 Global Pension Index reported “women's retirement savings and investments generate about 30% less income than men's once they stop working, and women also face a greater risk of running out of money in retirement,” according to WFMZ.
Thasunda Brown Duckett, President and CEO of TIAA, said, "While women have made tremendous progress attending college, competing in sports and rising through the ranks of Corporate America, significant gaps in equality remain… We aim to raise awareness of the 30% gap in women's retirement security and ignite a conversation that inspires, educates and challenges everyone to work together to close it.”
Venus Williams is also leading a campaign against the pay gap. On Instagram Williams acknowledged the hard work tennis players have put in to ensure all four of the Grand Slam events offer the men’s and women’s divisions equal prize money. She encouraged supporters of the equal pay movement to donate to Girls Inc., her partner organization that offers a variety of programs with the shared goal of instilling skills necessary for overcoming the economic, gender and social barriers girls may face throughout their lives.
The fight to close the pay gap between men and women has raged for years. Women’s History Month is the perfect opportunity to learn how issues such as occupational segregation and ineffective legislation keep justice far on the horizon and celebrate the little victories won by hard-working women around the world.