This week, the same sports organization that brought you SheBelieves, a tournament/movement to “encourage young women and girls to reach their dreams” also put forth a stunningly sexist legal defense for their self-imposed gender wage gap. US Soccer’s reason for paying players on the Women’s National Team less than their counterparts on the men’s team: “…the job MNT player requires materially different skill and more responsibility than Plaintiff’s job does, while also taking place under materially different working conditions.” In other words, as CNN summarized, being on the women’s team calls for less skill, effort and responsibility.
LOLOLOL. The less responsibility claim is especially rich given that USWNT player Jessica McDonald, a mom, has the responsibility of funding childcare for her son—which she can barely afford, given the league’s 2019 maximum salary of just $46,200 for women. Some get the minimum of just $16,538, according to NPR.
Even if you aren’t a soccer fan, you probably know that the Women’s National Team is damn good (they’ve won an astonishing four World Cups). You know who hasn’t won a World Cup? The men’s team. So the women’s team brought a gender discrimination suit for earning less than the men’s team, and US Soccer doubled down on their misogyny.
Twitter was having none of that nonsense.
Players and coaches protested too.
Even sponsors weighed in, and they were just as outraged as the rest of us.
The federation president eventually apologized for the wording but hasn’t backed down in his fight to pay the women players less.
Maybe if sponsors condemn the sexist unequal wages in addition to the sexist wording of the defense, US Soccer will finally level the, ahem, playing field. But federation bigwigs, just do what sports phenom Billie Jean King says:
US Soccer did something dangerous this week. By saying men’s jobs are more challenging and women’s are easier, it perpetuates the notion that women are rightfully paid less than men.
Now they have a chance to correct this and make a big statement that could change how other companies resolve their own unequal pay issues.
We just hope they take it.