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Men Vs. Women: The Pay Divide Between Genders in Major Sports

The Gender Wage Gap Continues in Tennis

Today’s guest post is by freelance graphic designer James Smith of vouchercloud. When James came to me with an infographic that pointed out the sobering pay gap between men and women in major sports, I knew it was an important topic for a blog post. He kindly agreed to write a post and it follows below, along with the infographic at the end. Take it away, James!

Gender & Sport: Where is the Balance?

With women continuing to impress on the world sporting stage, it would be natural to assume they’ve been able to bridge the money gap between themselves and their male counterparts – but have they?

While figures like Ronda Rousey, Serena Williams, and Brazilian football star Marta are slowly becoming household names, is that sort of increased presence being recognised from a financial perspective for female athletes?

Tennis: Men Vs. Women for Wages

Tennis is arguably the sport that sees the closest parity between the sexes, with equal prize money currently offered at all major tournaments.

Roger Federer is the most highly paid player in the game –despite earning just £2.7m in prize money last year, when compared to the £7m Serena Williams clocked up.

Amazingly though, while Williams has stood out as one of the most dominant female players ever, she was only able to bring home £7m in sponsorship deals, which pales in comparison to the staggering £33.1m Federer was handed.

It seems, when it comes to tennis, while significant advancements have been made in the public eye, the business dealings behind the scenes still massively favour male players.

Football and the Gender Pay Gap

In football the gulf between the sexes is a drastic one. As things stand, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney is currently on a contract that sees him earn a staggering £300k a week – that despite not always featuring for the Red Devils.

Marta by contrast is paid just £4.9k per week – a figure which itself is a lot higher than what the average female footballer will receive.

The divide is perhaps no more perfectly emphasised than by the difference in prize money between the major tournaments. The numbers are a little staggering:

  • The World Cup – sees the winning team receive £22m in the men’s game and just £600k in the women’s
  • The Champions League – hands out £8.3m to the winning male team, but just £200k to the female winners
  • The FA Cup – sees women pick up just £5,000 (about two-and-half hours’ work for Rooney), while the men get £1.8m
  • The Premier League & Women’s Super League – amazingly, there’s no prize money for the Super League, while the Premier League winners receive £97.5m

Women’s Earnings in Golf

While golf isn’t a sport that’s universally loved, there’s a shocking amount of money in it. 2015 US Masters winner Jordan Spieth pocketed a cool £1.1m just for winning the tournament and has racked up £25.4m in total prize money in his career.

By contrast, Lydia Ko earned just £180k for winning the Australian Open and has received a collective £1.85m in her entire career – seeing her stand out by some way as the top earner in the history of the female game.

Men and women play off of different tees in golf – but the additional 50 or so yards males are forced to drive the ball hardly compensates for this massive void between the sexes.

More Facts about the Gender Pay Gap

It would be impossible to sit here and list every sport’s figures for male and female earnings, so here are a few select points of interest:

  • Marathon runners are generally paid equally, with both male and female victors bringing home £199k for their efforts
  • In snooker, the World Championship sees £300k handed to the winner in the men’s game and just £2k in the women’s
  • In cricket there is an insane gulf, with £2.6m handed to the male team and just £47k to the female (57.5 times less) for winning the World Cup
  • There is some good news though, with speed skating, shooting, bowls, archery, triathlon, and high diving all offering equal prize money.

Generally, the gap between male and female prize money is pretty wide. The likely explanation for this comes from the fact male sport brings in far greater viewers and revenue for organisations. Will that change? We’ll discover the answer in time.

If you found these stats interesting, check out the fascinating infographic below for more facts and figures on the amount of money in male and female sport.

Men vs women in sport infographic
Vouchercloud infographic

About today’s writer

James Smith is a freelance graphic designer originally from Sheffield but now living in Bristol. I work on a lot of projects for vouchercloud, who are an online and offline voucher code site operating in various countries around the world.

Do you have money problems or feel that you earn less than your male counterparts? Is this information about the gender wage gap in sport new to you? What surprises you the most? Speak up in the comments below!

38 thoughts on “Men Vs. Women: The Pay Divide Between Genders in Major Sports”

  1. Lauren van Arendonk

    Love the infographic James! How refreshing to have such an issue spoken about from a male perspective.

    1. Thanks for appreciating James’ work here! His guest post was so informative. It’s great to get that feedback

  2. I think gap is closing but there are some things we can do. Namely, support the teams. As a male, American sports fan I was glued to the set during the Women’s World Cup. I wasn’t the only one. It is not lost on us that the USWNT are the winners in our country and not the men.

  3. I do agree the pay gap from mens sports to women sports are very drastic but comparing mens and women professional sports mens sports generate a tremendous more amount of revenue compared to women’s. I personally think professional women athletes are not paid as much as men because there sports and the team they play for do not have enough money to pay them as much as men.

    1. Good point about the funding limits for women’s sports, Thomas. Always great to hear other viewpoints!

  4. Such a fab article! It’s always so interesting to see how huge the differences are between genders outside of the ‘regular’ working world. Hard to believe how much girls sport has come on in the past few years when you check the stats vs men.
    It is also interesting that as well as sports revenues being funnelled into the mens sport there is little focus on trying to get women more interested in sport. The media has such large dependancies on the male audiences that they rarely attempt to target women, which surely can’t help the future outlook of the whole situation.

  5. Great post!
    This was really fun to read. The graphic was awesome, and it presented itself in an extremely informative form. It is such a shame that women are constantly proving their athletic talent and effort. Arguable female and male sport are different, but that does not mean the pay should be so vastly contrasting. It was incredible to see that really all sports hugely fail to provide any sort of pay that should be matched to the males. I feel like I constantly read articles where people recognise it is wrong, but yet no action has been taken. It is quite disappointing.
    Thanks for this blog!

    1. Exactly! Many people critique but aren’t taking action. You hit the nail on the head! I found you on Twitter and appreciate all you are doing for the cause.

    1. Yes, there is still much to be done in terms of gender equality… Thanks M for taking time here

  6. As the article says, a proportion of the disparity is sadly due to ongoing corporate greed dictated by number of viewers and consequenty revenue conversion… but it’s a vicious circle, there is very little actual coverage in television of women playing traditionally male sports in the first place, certainly in UK. I personally am not that interested in sport, but if there was female football being regularly broadcast I’d more likely watch it, I find it more interesting than the male game where half the time the players are hacking each other to pieces or rolling around on the ground when they’ve hardly been touched. I didn’t even know there was female snooker, for example, though there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be…. but is it ever broadcast?

    I also find it sad to read implications that women’s sport is only likely to get lots of viewers if the players are ‘scantily clad’, rather than because they’re talented.

    As Teagan suggests, the pay gap is prevalent in lots of industries, not just sport.

    Finally, I think a lot of sportsmen are paid obscene amounts of money, how can it be right that Rooney gets paid more in a week for kicking a ball around than a qualified business professional in 2-3 years? Personally I think he’s pretty rubbish! But then I could, going rather off topic, harp on about the fortunes of Bill Gates and the company Apple as a whole…. when a lot of people in Haiti have lost their homes, etc and have nothing but the clothes they are wearing!

    1. Male sports certainly receive more coverage in most parts of the world than female. It’s like the world has come so far in many respects but gender gaps still exist in several industries, with sports being one of them. I will say though that Bill Gates actually does give a lot of money to charity through the foundation he has with his wife. Thanks Andrea for the points you make here; it is nice to see you.

  7. Harrumph!!!! Very informative article by James. Thank you to both of you.
    O can’t help but wonder if there is any job or career where women make more than men?

    1. Hi Resa, glad you appreciated James’ post. Great question you asked and, yes, I believe women do make more than men in traditionally-female sectors, such as education and healthcare. For example, typically female dietitians and nutritionists earn more than men. It could possibly be that they are there longer and so earn more for this reason but, regardless of “why,” they are often earning more than men. Hope that helps!

  8. It just seems that much of modern times are still in the dark ages. Thanks for spreading awareness as always Christy. And great infographic! <3

  9. Pete... Hoonigan Z5

    Why isn’t disability sports highlighted? This years Olympics saw the UK disabled athletes absolutely trounce the UK non-disabled athelets over medals…..

    Sorry,being biased over countries 😦

  10. I’m amazed that there is such a huge disparity. Ideally, I’d like to see everybody being paid the same no matter what line of work they’re in, sport or anything else.

  11. Very interesting post by James. Such a thought-provoking topic and the comments here have been very engaging. I am all for equality, all for women getting paid the same as men who participate in sport.

    But as Aquileana said, maybe sport really does have more male supporters and are more likely to be able to afford to pay to watch sport, which leads to better marketing for males in sport. Then again, that’s not to say that females don’t want to participate in sport. Certainly they do and for serious sportswoman they would work hard at it, as hard as a sportsman. And for that, I find it very odd that there is still no equal prizemoney today for both genders.

  12. While I definitely do think equal pay is absolutely important, in the world of business and life the monopoly men have created (and humbly a situation I’ve benefited from), we miss so much by not having women in such positions. Equal pay should not even be discussed as it is such a no-brainer. An issue that deserves to be tackled. For women in sports, the same ~ except there also has to be another variable to account for as well. Profitability. Take the NBA versus WNBA: the NBA and its teams rake in money while the WNBA team are often subsidized – two different products, and equal pay is simply impossible.

    1. Thanks Dalo for bringing up the point that men’s sports attract bigger audiences than women.. Now to determine why that is so.. There is much to learn and discuss. Thanks for being part of the conversation!

  13. I second colinandray when she mentions beach voleyball (and a hidden reason why there might be equal pay there)….
    I am wondering if the gap has to be with the fact that many sports (probably most) have more male fans supporters, just to avoid making it exclusively a Genre issue, while seeing the marketing side… “They are better paid because they sell better, so to speak”…
    Interestingly enough, though… Rugby sells and it is exclusively a male sport… in which winners are not paid. I am just trying to see the big picture ;)
    On the other hand, I guess the counter example would be the Olympic Games as medals equal certain amount of cash, which is paid by each national Olympic federation
    Great post…I would just like to know more concerning the “reasons” of this disparity….
    Sending love & best wishes. Aquileana :D

    1. Thanks Aqui for the great comment here. I think that part of it is the tradition of male sports and that society is not yet fully accepting of the female as being an equal.. Of course that is my opinion.. And I do hope for gender equality in all areas of life, including the sporting world. Yes, medals do equal cash.. Perhaps I chose the wrong profession, hehe ;) Love to you!! xx

  14. Great post, Christy and James. Having spent most of my so called career in Information Technology (IT) arenas this is a subject that hits home with me. Though there are a lot of women in IT now, it is still male dominated (when I first started out, I was often the only woman in the room). The pay disparity was disgustingly obvious.
    People like to praise all the progress that has been made toward equalizing pay. Whatever percent they are claiming is now the gap, it’s too much. If that percent is enough that a pay raise of that amount would be incentive to change jobs, then the gap is too wide.
    The US federal government pretends to equalize pay with their pay grade system. But they just populate the lowest grade jobs almost exclusively with women… So they get around the equal pay issue by not allowing women into the highest ranking jobs (until someone even higher up demands that they hire a woman to make their numbers look better).
    Sorry… I’ll get off my soapbox now! Huge hugs.

    1. Excellent points here, T. I notice that there are few women who are in the upper ranks of many companies (with a few exceptions ~ Interestingly, the cannabis industry has many females in top positions). I appreciate too your voicing your opinions based on your line of work and own experiences, which really adds validity to your comment. Thank you xx

  15. I don’t understand why it should be assumed that things should now be equal? I am not suggesting that they shouldn’t be equal but, sadly, major sports have little to do with sport and rather a lot to do with business with a profit driven motive.
    If the women refused to participate, either the remunerations would increase, or the business model would dictate withdrawing all support from women’s events.
    I would suggest the supporters (especially the men) are a large part of the problem. While men play beach volley in shorts and top, the women are wearing relatively scanty bikinis! The same pretty much applies to gymnastics. Sadly, perceived sexuality sells and, equally sadly, both the spectators and the competitors are buying into it.Sport or business?

    If people (especially men) men are prepared to pay relatively low ticket prices and create a sell-out situation, then business is very happy.

    1. You’re quite right that it’s the supporters who are enabling this issue to keep going. Thanks for your comment that highlights much of the problem!

    1. I appreciate every time I get a comment here because it means that the issue is getting more awareness.. Thanks G!

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