The gender pay gap in sports. Why it exists and how it can be overcome

Whenever Someone talks about gender inequality, our focus directly moves on the gender pay gap difference between men and women. Yes in previous decades and centuries, men were always favoured to get paid more, compared to women. But what was the reason behind that? is it favoursim or some other factors that played an important role? you will find it soon.

The question that remains the same is why the gender pay gap even exists in sports? in most sports, women athletes earn way less than male athletes, even though they put in the same amount of work. So, to balance the equation, many women athletes have to do full-time jobs as well on top of being full-time athletes to survive.


From a historical point of view, participation for women in sports is always considered inappropriate. Competing against men on a physical level always leaves a question. Though this point of view is starting to change over the decades. Women’s participation has grown over the years but gender biases are still present in many areas of sports.

The prime example of the gender pay gap is the difference in prize money of the FIFA world cup for men and women. In the 2018 men’s world cup edition, the winner gets $38 million. On the other hand, In the 2019 women’s world cup edition, the winner took $4 million only.

Gender Pay gap ratio in sports

In modern-day sports, Governing bodies are adopting the approach of paying their athletes and national team players equal amounts. According to the research conducted by BBC, 83% of sports now reward men and women equally.

but it doesn’t mean the pay gap in sports has disappeared. According to the Forbes list of 100 highest-paid athletes, No women athlete appeared in the top 50. That pretty much sums up the equation.

Football, Cricket, NBA, Boxing, MMA, and MLS associations have a ratio difference of 68%. The average salary for an NBA player is $8,321,937. On the other side, WNBA gives only $75,181 to the player. It makes NBA the worst paying federation towards their female athletes.

Similarly, here’s an example of a staggering pay gap difference between the highest-paid players in men’s and women’s cricket in India. BCCI ( the Board of Control for Cricket in India) pays their women team captain Smiriti Mandhana $68.5 k per year which is equivalent to 7% of team India male captain Virat Kohli’s annual income of $952K.

Although sports like tennis have a policy of paying an equal amount of prize money to winners of the grand slams titles. The tennis athoruties adopted the policy of paying an equal amount of prize money gives the idea of how their association was way ahead of other top sports to remove gender pay gap differences.

Factors behind the gender pay gap

Some sports are now giving equal prize money to winners. In tennis, all grand slam events pay equivalent money to the winner but other factors increase the gender pay gap difference.

There is no factor of biases or favorisam towards paying male athletes and men’s teams. Male athletes and teams get paid more as compared to women athletes and teams due to the following factors:

Endorsement deals: male sports and teams attract far more viewership than women’s sports and players. Big endorsement companies always go towards the high-profile player that catches media and public attention. Disappointingly, there is very little viewership compared to male sports. If you look at that, Serina Williams earned $2 million which is more than Roger Federer earned as prize money. But Federer makes $58 million in endorsement which is 5 times higher than what Serina Williams makes.

Media coverage: The media only covers that events which are higher in rating and can easily get traffic on their sites. Men’s competition attracts more traffic than women’s competition, that’s why media houses pay more attention to men’s competition and give their sport prime time slot.

Economic return: every club and league owner who invests is always looking for a return in profit. The only way to get a return is through the sales of tickets and media rights to telecast the match. This will only happen when the viewer wants to see the games that bring excitement and more close competition.

Other factors include Biological differencesMore tickets salesMale governing bodiesViewer ships, and Broadcasting rights.

Leave a Comment