Leadership in Athletics: Equal Pay Day

The U.S. women’s soccer team had no idea how many records they would break during the 2015 World Cup final. But then this happened:

  • It was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history at 26.7 million viewers
  • They would go on to become the first woman’s team to win three World Cup titles
  • They had the most goals scored in the World Cup finals – for men or women
  • It saw the most significant discrepancy between men’s and women’s prize money

The prize money discrepancy is certainly the most shocking. In 2015, the women’s team’s prize money was a whopping $15 million compared to the astronomic amount of $400 million for the men’s. Due to this discrepancy, among others, all 28 members of the U.S. National Women’s team filed suit against the United States Soccer Federation for equal pay.

Cut to four years later. It is hard to believe this is still a discussion in 2019, but the pay gap remains a major issue. Fifty-six years since JFK signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which aims to abolish wage discrimination based on gender, there is still a gap.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states the following on their website1:

“It required that men and women in the same workplace be given an equal pay for equal work. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. Job content (not job titles) determines whether jobs are substantially equal. All forms of pay are covered by this law, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses and benefits. If there is an inequality in wages between men and women, employers may not reduce the wages of either sex to equalize their pay.”

The 2015 World Cup prize discrepancy is a perfect example of wage gap discrimination. The U.S. men and women's soccer teams both train, travel and play the same game. Their pay and bonuses (prize money) should be equal.

While there are still significant pay discrepancies, some improvements have been made. First, the pay gap is decreasing. In 1960, the pay gap was 55 percent of a man’s full-time salary in comparison to 78 percent in 2016. Some states have passed stricter laws in an effort to even pay. And certain careers or industries like technology and engineering have a minimal pay gap, if any at all.

But, there is still a long way to go. The graph below2, data from 2008-2015, shows there is still a pay gap, even though women are approximately 45 percent of the global workforce. As seen on the graph, some countries are better than others. China has a significant pay gap of 41percent and Italy only has a 7 percent difference. Even if the gap continues to decrease, it is projected that women will not receive equal pay until 2059.3

Gender Pay Gap and Women in Labor in the G20 [2]


On top of that, there is a study revealing that in 2015 the difference in rewards between men and women (i.e., salary, bonuses and promotions) was an astounding 14 times larger for men in their performance evaluations.4

This unique coupon created by The National Committee on Pay Equity puts it best:

Coupon created by The National Committee on Pay Equity

A great way to show your support for this issue is to wear RED today, Tuesday, April 2, 2019, Equal Pay Day. But if it is too late for that, then thank someone who did! Be sure to stay aware of this issue and find ways to support, call it out, or just wear red next year.


Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2019, from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/equalcompensation.cfm

Infographics: Gender Pay Gap and Women in Labor in the G20. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2019, from https://www.boell.de/en/infographics-gender-pay-gap-and-women-labor-g20

3 Women's Median Earnings as a Percent of Men's Median Earnings, 1960-2016 (Full-time, Year-round Workers) with Projection for Pay Equity in 2059. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2019, from https://iwpr.org/publications/women-men-earnings-ratio-1960-2016-pay-e

Joshi, A., Son, J., & Roh, H. (2015). When Can Women Close the Gap? A Meta-Analytic Test of Sex Differences in Performance and Rewards. Academy of Management Journal,58(5), 1516-1545.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.