Sunday, February 25, 2007

Equal Pay for Equal Output

To all those women shun feminism and its ideals, who think they are treated equally with men, who see the philosophies of the National Organization for Women as extreme and the fight for Equal Rights Amendment as unnecessary, this week’s announcement from Wimbledon is a reminder of how far we still have to go.

Much fanfare occurred this week with the announcement that female tennis players would now receive the same prize money as their male counterparts in the tournament. I don’t want to belittle the historic nature of this decision; this is a monumental milestone in women’s sports. What softens the excitement around this achievement is how long it took to materialize. Over 30 years after Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes, women will finally be making the same as men in Tennis’ most prestigious tournament.

The promoters of Wimbledon maintained the position for generations that the difference in prize money between men and women players was a matter of principle; Men play 5 set matches and Women play 3 sets. The time worked was actually not equal and therefore, there should be a difference in pay. This might seem logical on the surface, but there is a key flaw in this reasoning. While some monetary compensation is given around hours worked, there are also other factors that determine how much pay is deserved.

When measuring the worth of athletes, time spent playing means little to nothing in determining compensation. If that were the case, the pay scale in the NBA and WNBA would be equal and Football players with their 16 game season would make much less then those in baseball. Women in the WNBA do not make as much as their male counterparts because their work does not bring in the same revenue stream, although they play the same 4 quarters. Players in the NFL make as much if not more for their 16 games as baseball players do for their 162 games because of their revenue potential. Tennis is one sport where women have proven their worth in drawing crowds and contributing to the overall popularity of the game and they should share equally in the revenue generated by this success.

The battle for equal pay at Wimbledon had the support of millions and received countless hours of media attention yet still took decades to come to pass. The average woman doesn’t have that kind of support and interest in their quest to receive the same pay as men in their same jobs. Inequality in pay exists for women in a wide variety of positions and industries across the globe. Women have won another battle in their quest for financial equality, but they haven't won the war.


Alex said...

You could pretty easily make the argument that women tennis players draw more spectators, and should thus be paid more. Wimbledon would be sold out either way, so maybe not in this particular case, but still... I'm betting even you could name more women's tennis players than men's, so I don't think this is just my drool factor speaking.

blondebombchelle said...

We could go into a whole different topic around the sexualization of women's sports to increase viewership and attendance (women's volleyball being one major one coming to mind). The drool factor in women's tennis is part of the increase in popularity, however, I think the women's game has become more interesting to watch then the men's with more game strategy. The only strategy men seem to have these days is to attempt to have an ace on each serve.