Equal pay for equal play - women in sport deserve better
The Women’s Equality Party is calling on UK sports’ governing bodies to mark Women in Sport week by instigating equal pay for sportswomen and men.
“We believe something should be done to address the huge pay differentials between male and female athletes competing at national level,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party. “Women in Sport week (dates) is backed by national governing bodies from many different sports, who have the power to pay their female competitors equally. We are asking this week: do it now.”
Women who represent their country in many sports are paid significantly less than their male counterparts. For example, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) pay women players a retainer fee of £50,000 a year, compared to £700,000 for men – 14 times as much. Match bonuses for women add up to around £1,000 for a test match, and £500 for one day internationals and T20 matches. Men are paid £12,000 for a test match, £5,000 for one day internationals and £2,500 for T20 matches.
“WE think these figures should spark some challenging conversations,” said Walker. “What sportswomen are paid matters. Turning professional improves the quality of sport, which in turn broadens its appeal to spectators, which in turn brings greater exposure and more resource. We’ve seen it happen in the men’s game, and it’s time the playing field was levelled for women.”
Walker pointed out that the UK media consistently demonstrates gender bias, focusing 93% of its sports coverage on men. “Broadcasters argue that there is less appetite for coverage of women’s sport, yet the huge viewing figures for the Women’s (Football) World Cup in 2015 in Canada proved this wrong. Nearly 12m people watched the Lionesses’s journey to third place, in spite of many late-night kick-offs.
“Until women’s sport gets a fair share of broadcast schedules, sportswomen will get less money for competing, even at the same levels as men. That’s why WE have set out clear plans to address the underrepresentation of women in sports broadcasting across all major UK networks, by implementing quotas and incentivising best practice.”
She added: “Boys who grow up in the UK are surrounded by imagery of successful, well-paid sportsmen. Sport is presented to boys as an aspirational – and attainable, given the right combination of talent and hard work – career and lifestyle. This not the same for girls. It’s time we inspire girls and women to see sport as something that they can excel at – and afford to pursue as a career if they wish, just as men can.”
The Women’s Equality Party will be publishing ‘top trump’ cards online during Women in Sport week to show the huge gap between the money earned by sportswomen and men. “While our top trump cards aren’t tradeable, WE hope that they’ll be worth a great deal in moving the UK towards a more equitable system of rewarding the athletes that represent our country at the highest level.”