Pay Inequity in Athletics

College and professional sports continue to provide unequal funding for women. Paying men more for the same sport gives women in the sport less incentive to push themselves and discourages future female participation in the sport.

Gender Inequity in Collegiate Sports

  • Even though female students comprise 57% of college student populations, female athletes received only 43% of participation opportunities at NCAA schools which is 63,241 fewer participation opportunities than their male counterparts. (NCAA, 2014)  
  • Although the gap has narrowed, male athletes still receive 55% of NCAA college athletic scholarship dollars (Divisions I and II), leaving only 45% allocated to women. (NCAA, 2014)
  • When examining median expenses per NCAA Division I institutions, women's teams receive only 40% of college sport operating dollars and 36% of college athletic team recruitment spending. (NCAA, 2012)
  • Median head coaches’ salaries at NCAA Division I-FBS schools are $3,430,000 for men’s teams and $1,172,400 for women’s teams. This is a difference of $2,257,600. (NCAA, 2012)
Gender Equity in Professional Sports

  • At the end of each World Major Marathon (MMM) series the leading man and woman each win $500,000, making a total prize of one million U.S. dollars. The WMM includes the New York Marathon, the Boston Marathon, the London Marathon, the Tokyo Marathon, the Berlin Marathon, and the Chicago Marathon.
  • In 2007 Wimbledon announced for the first time, it will provide equal prize purses to male and female athletes. All four Grand Slam events now offer equal prize money to the champions.
  • When the Association of Surfing Professionals was acquired in 2012, now known as the World Surf League, the new ownership made it a policy that the men's and women's Championship Tour events have equal prize money. 

Gender Inequity in Professional Sports

  • Total prize money for the 2014 PGA tour, over $340 million, is more than five times that of the new-high for the 2015 LPGA tour, $61.6 million. Similar discrepancies exist throughout professional sports.
  • For a WNBA player in the 2015 season, the minimum salary was $38,913, the maximum salary was $109,500, and the team salary cap in 2012 was $878,000. For NBA players in the 2015-2016 season, the minimum salary is $525,093, the maximum salary is $16.407 million, and the team salary cap is an all-time high of $70 million.
  • For  winning the 2015 Women's World Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Team won $2 million. Germany’s men’s team took home $35 million for winning the 2014 World Cup. The U.S. men’s team finished in 11th place and collected $9 million, and each men’s team that was eliminated in the first round of the 2014 World Cup got $8 million each, which is four times as much as the 2015 women’s championship team.

What you can do

  • Attend women's sporting events
  • Support companies that advocate for women's athletics
  • Encourage television stations and newspapers to cover women's sports
  • Sign up to coach a girls' sports team, whether at the recreational or high school level
  • Encourage young women to participate in sports
  • Become an advocate: if you are or know a female athlete that is being discriminated against – advocate for her rights.


Photo Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Published Jul 20, 2015
By Women's Sports Foundation

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