Bridging the Gender Pay Gap: Addressing Persistent Inequality in Pay Across Genders

Discrimination has been a big factor in the world historically, whether it be because of one’s race, religion, gender, or simply anything that makes a person different from what is accepted by society. Society emphasizes that we are all indeed “equal,” but we all know that’s certainly not the case because we are all different, and we can’t all expect to be treated like the person standing next to us. One major example of discrimination that continues to stir controversy occurs in workplaces. Women who hold the same position as men are paid less than their male counterparts. It’s said that women make about 82 cents for every dollar a man makes (Varnell Par.1).

Inequality & discrimination in workplaces didn’t just now begin happening; it’s always been a reoccurring issue due to the expectations society implements on men. Society expects men to handle business and be the breadwinner of their households. Meanwhile, society expects women to take care of the house and kids and cater to their husbands, but over the years, women have become more educated, independent, and productive.

Today, women are well equipped to do just as much as men do, if not even more. Women today are not limited to job opportunities. They work jobs/positions that were traditionally supposed to be held by men. Women like Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Michelle Obama, Danica Patrick, JK Rowling, Pat Summitt, and Oprah Winfrey are some of the most influential women today. Their ability to be relentless, focused, and fearless helped them overcome obstacles as well as build them into successful women of excellence, and that has empowered the future generation of women.

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy amended the “Fair Labor Standards Act” and signed the “Equal Pay Act” which was created by female activist Esther Peterson, who served as a member of his cabinet as the head of the Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labor (Equal Pay Act of 1963 Par 4). By signing this bill into law, Kennedy made it illegal for men and women working the same job to be paid different salaries. Men feared that if women were able to earn as much as them that they would be left with no jobs and potentially no wives because of the newly found freedom and opportunity to be independent. Wage discrimination continues to be a method that society uses as a way to limit and control women.

Brown and Patten claim that although the gender gap is still prevalent, it was found that the “gender gap has narrowed since 1980” in their article “The narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in the pay.” Donnelly supports Brown and Patten’s claim when she refers to research done by the U.S Census Bureau that found that “the gap between how much men and women are earning narrowed significantly for the first time since the recession” (Donnelly Par.1). The gap narrowing can be credited to factors such as higher education that women are receiving, their race, and job description. In today’s modern era, women are far more educated and more empowered to be more independent and a force to be reckoned with in society. We see women holding government positions, running businesses, and in this case, being some of the greatest athletes in the world.

Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Lisa Leslie, Diana Taurasi, Danica Patrick, and Megan Rapinoe are known as some of the greatest female athletes of the 20 century. These women are considered the faces and ambassadors of their sport. They are known for pushing their bodies to the absolute extreme in order to be considered the best in their profession. Before these women were on the platform that they are on, there were pioneers that paved the way for them to be able to become the athletes they are today. Prior to losing her battle with Alzheimer’s in 2016, Pat Summitt was considered to be one of the greatest athletes, coaches, and pioneers in women’s basketball. Pat helped pave the way for equality for females in sports by advocating for “Title IX” which was originally sponsored by Birch Bayh and Edith Green and was signed into law in 1972 by President Richard Nixon (“Title IX Legislative Chronology” Par.1).

The purpose of “Title IX” was to abolish sex discrimination in any federally funded educational program. In terms of athletics, this meant that both women’s and men’s collegiate athletic teams were to be awarded the same amount of scholarships, equipment, and opportunity to succeed. Summit herself was a beneficiary of “Title IX” as she was able to attend the University of Tennessee on a full athletic scholarship, where she helped build the program into one of the most disciplined programs in women’s collegiate basketball. Title IX gave women a chance to compete at a much higher level the men.

The difference in salary between male and female athletes is completely insane and unfair. You lie, I lie, but numbers don’t! Across the board, no matter what sport it is, female athletes are earning a lot less than males. Although female athletes don’t produce as much revenue like male athletes do, they deserve to get paid just as much as men because, essentially, they are doing the exact same job.
According to the article “Pay For Female Athletes Lags behind Males” and research provided by the Women’s Sports Foundation, Smith mentions that in 2015 the “minimum salary for a WNBA player in was $38,913, while the maximum salary was $109,500. While the minimum salary of an NBA player was $525,093, and the maximum salary of $16.407 million (Smith Par.5). The sports industry is a business, and in business, numbers do not lie. Based on the research, it is clear that there is discrimination in the sports world between men and female athletes.

Why is the difference in wages? Well, it all breaks down to ticket and merchandise sales, broadcastings/ratings, and the athletes themselves. It is clear that women’s athletics don’t produce as much revenue as men’s because society does not care about female athletes, and that’s simply the truth. Society today still wants to limit women like back in the day. Several female athletes are labeled too masculine, aggressive, and just outright competitive. Traits like those are typically seen with men, so for a woman to have it is considered unappealing.

Since the participation of women in sports is attached to negative stereotypes, it makes it that much harder for people to actually buy in. Most of the sports fan base obviously belongs to men because men love sports. Women also watch sports, but typically only the sports that involve men. Women’s sports are nowhere close to being as popular as men’s. I have never been to an NBA game, but I know some arenas sell out or come close to it. I have been to several WNBA games/All-Star games, and the arenas look empty, spaced out, and just sad. In the article “How the WNBA recovered from its worst ever season,” Johnson and Cwieka data from Sports Business Daily research on WNBA attendance and found that in 2015 the “WNBA posted a league-wide average attendance of 7,318, the lowest in its 19-year existence” (Johnson & Cwieka Par.5).

The low attendance rate of most women’s sporting events can be credited to the fact that society is “sexist,” and society claims that women’s sports aren’t as interesting as men’s. In his article “Blame ‘subtle sexism’ if you think women’s sports seem more boring than men’s,” Downing writes that the “continued belief that women’s sports are less interesting may limit television ratings, ticket sales, the amount advertisers are willing to pay for the broadcast time during women’s events, the potential for corporate endorsements for women athletes, and the salaries of players and coaches” (Downing Par.13). I strongly agree with Downing. Society hasn’t entirely given women’s sports a chance to grow as it did for men. According to research done by ESPN, the Phoenix Suns had the lowest attendance rate in the 2015 NBA season, which was 16,881 (ESPN Pg.1)

It is no secret that female athletes aren’t creating as much revenue as males do, but continuous efforts by leagues and organizations to promote female athletes have given a boost to some. TV ratings in the WNBA aren’t going to go up overnight and match those of the NBA. As great as that sounds, it just won’t happen. Society first has to stop putting female athletes in boxes that compromise their identity. Instead, society should continue empowering women to be challenged. So many of the salaries in male sports depend on how much the athlete is worth and how much they bring in, and clearly, females can’t compare, but it is still important to know that females also deserve to earn as much as the men regardless of what sport it is.

Seeing that the salary that female athletes earn is extreme, many female athletes have to depend on endorsements/sponsorships, regular jobs, and overseas careers as a way to bring in extra income. Most major sponsoring organizations such as Nike, Puma, Adidas, and Gatorade, just to name a few usually tend only sponsor male athletes because they do create more revenue for their company. Being endorsed or sponsored isn’t guaranteed to female athletes. Only a certain portion of female athletes are able to snag sponsorships.

Playing overseas is a great opportunity for some female athletes to pocket extra money. For those that don’t have that opportunity, another way to increase their income is to be endorsed/sponsored. Endorsements and sponsorships are agreements that corporations and organizations have with athletes in which corporations and organizations bank on the popularity of athletes to sell their products or promote them. Nike, Adidas, Under Armor, Puma, and Gatorade are some of the biggest endorsers and sponsors athletes today can have. These companies create shoes, clothes, as well as accessories that are demanded all over the world, so it is important that they have athletes that are of high value to help the demand stay high.

Few female athletes can say that they are endorsed or sponsored because it is rare for companies to choose women over men to represent their companies. However, over the years, more and more companies have chosen to sponsor female athletes. In the article “Why Brands Are Finally Choosing More Female Athletes for Big Endorsements Deals,” Richards acknowledges that brands are indeed choosing to endorse more and more female athletes because women “control 70-80 percent of consumer purchases” (Richards Par.4). Since women consistently buy more product from these companies, it would be beneficial and smart of companies to have more female representation, so it empowers not only the female athletes but also the women wearing the products.

Athletes like Serena Williams, Alex Morgan, Candace Parker, Maya Moore, and Skylar Diggins-Smith are great examples of female athletes that are endorsed. In addition to being drafted into the WNBA, Candace Parker, Maya Moore, and Skylar Diggins-Smith all signed endorsement deals with major companies such as Adidas, Jordan, Gatorade, and Puma. Parker signed multi-year endorsement deals with both Adidas and Gatorade, while Moore became the first-ever female to be endorsed by Jordan. Diggins-Smith became the face of Puma in August after parting ways with Nike. It is clear why she left Nike to sign with Puma (JuanofaKind Par.1).

Maya Moore’s endorsement deal from Jordan was worth between $3-4 million, according to (Swartz Par.2). In 2015, Parker received $3 million from her endorsement deals (Salary Par.5). It is unclear exactly how much Diggins-Smith will be earning from Puma, Despite Parker, Moore, and Diggins-Smith earning more income from their endorsements if we compare the income from endorsement deals with those of NBA players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry the difference in incomes would also be considered unfair.

In tennis, Serena Williams is in a league of her own! In 2003 she signed a five-year deal with Nike that was worth $55 million after her contract with Puma expired (Staff Par.1). $55 million is a whole bunch of money compared to a bunch of other athletes. In 2015 Williams earned $24.6 million and another $13 million from endorsements (Snyder Par.6). It is clear that female athletes obviously go through way more obstacles to earn the amount of money that they do, some play overseas, and others depend on endorsements to make ends meet. Sponsorships and endorsement deals aren’t guaranteed to be given. However, it is also refreshing to know that companies are now looking towards sponsoring women as much as men.

Obviously, men athletes do attract more crowds and produce more revenue for their respected franchises because they give people what they want to see. Men are more aggressive and intense compared to women, and who doesn’t like to see two grown men go at it? Society loves aggressiveness and intensity when it comes to men only. If a female athlete is seen being aggressive, it is considered “unladylike.” The negative stereotypes that society puts on female athletes overshadow the potential of just how great these athletes can be. Female sports and athletes would be more appealing if society wasn’t so close-minded about what roles each gender is supposed to play. Female athletes invest just as much blood, sweat, and tears as men but don’t get the same recognition (Muller Par.3). Regardless of men creating more revenue, female athletes deserve to earn just as much as their male counterparts. The gender wage gap in sports is current and unfair.

Discrimination is known as the unjust treatment of people or things because of what makes them different compared to other people or things. Discrimination can be seen amongst races, religions, and also gender. For a country that emphasizes so much on equality and fairness amongst everyone regardless of race, religion, and gender America continues to struggle to keep the playing field completely equal, especially when it comes to men and women in workplaces. It is not fair that women don’t earn the full dollar when it comes to workplaces as men do because, over the years, women have become more equipped. Times have changed drastically. No form of employment in today’s day and age is considered just a “man’s” or “woman’s” job, although a portion of society today remains ignorant and close-minded.

In conclusion, sports are a big part of American culture. Families gather together to root for their favorite teams and players as well as show their hatred towards other teams and players. The sports industry is a business that creates a large sum of money for this country, everyone has a favorite team, and this encourages people to buy whatever merchandise franchises choose to release. Sports have come a long way when it pertains to equality, prior to women assembling and participating; sports were strictly for men only. Men were able to earn a way of living because of their physical talents. Seeing that women have the exact same body parts as men, with the exception of the reproductive system, women also thought they could earn a living because of their physical talents.

As a result, we see women competing in the same sports as men do, regardless of how physical it is. Whether it be boxing, basketball, soccer, tennis, or even race car racing, women have become more and more empowered to do just as much as men. If men and women are doing the exact same thing, then they should be rewarded the exact same amount of money. Gender wage equality in sports has to be prioritized because it is a form of discrimination. America is a country that publicly denounces all forms of discrimination. It has set laws that pertain to equality, but inequality and discrimination are still major issues regardless of the laws set in place.

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Bridging the Gender Pay Gap: Addressing Persistent Inequality in Pay Across Genders. (2023, Mar 15). Retrieved May 19, 2024 , from

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