Usually, when I think about our country's infuriating gender pay gap, the working women who try their damnedest to make ends meet for their families come to mind. Occasionally, I'll read about celebs like Jennifer Lawrence who are speaking out about pay disparities between actresses and their male counterparts and remember that the playing field needs to be leveled in Hollywood, too.
But, because of my usual avoidance of the sports world, I rarely—if ever—think about our badass women athletes. Thankfully, ESPN delivered my reality check. Emphasis is mine.
Five members of the U.S. women's national soccer team — including Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan — have filed on behalf of the entire team a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The filing, citing figures from the USSF's 2015 financial report, says that despite the women's team generating nearly $20 million more revenue last year than the U.S. men's team, the women are paid almost four times less.
"Recently, it has become clear that the Federation has no intention of providing us equal pay for equal work," Megan Rapinoe said in a news release, after also attaching her name to the filing along with Becky Sauerbrunn.
The EEOC will conduct an investigation and determine if its findings warrant compensation to the U.S. women's team. ...
"In early January, the Women's National Team Players Association submitted a reasonable proposal for a new CBA that had equal pay for equal work as its guiding principle," [Winton & Staw lawfirm co-chairman Jeffrey] Kessler said in the statement. "U.S. Soccer responded by suing the players in an effort to keep in place the discriminatory and unfair treatment they have endured for years."
The union representing the players is currently involved in a legal dispute with U.S. Soccer over the terms of their collective bargaining agreement. The federation filed a lawsuit this year seeking to clarify that its contract with the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Players Association runs through the Rio Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.
Seattle Reign's own goalkeeper, Hope Solo, had this to say:
"I've been on this team for a decade and a half, and I've been through numerous CBA negotiations, and honestly, not much has changed," Solo said. "We continue to be told we should be grateful just to have the opportunity to play professional soccer, to get paid for doing it.
"In this day and age, it's about equality. It's about equal rights. It's about equal pay. We're pushing for that. We believe now the time is right because we believe it's our responsibility for women's sports and specifically for women's soccer to do whatever it takes to push for equal pay and equal rights. And to be treated with respect."
And, naturally, the U.S. Soccer Federation responded to the women's action in a statement that reeked of BS:
"We understand the Women's National Team Players Association is filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against U.S. Soccer," the USSF statement said. "While we have not seen this complaint and can't comment on the specifics of it, we are disappointed about this action. We have been a world leader in women's soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women's game in the United States over the past 30 years."
Gonna leave this right here for you, U.S. Soccer officials:
Also greatly disparate, according to the figures, is the pay for playing in the World Cup. The U.S. women received a team total of $2 million when it won the World Cup last year in Canada. Yet when the U.S. men played in the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, the team earned a total of $9 million despite going just 1-2-1 and being knocked out in the round of 16.
Yup, that's right: U.S. Soccer is surprised that their female players are rightfully speaking up about a $7 million pay disparity between the men and women's World Cup teams. The men's team lost the championship and was still paid a bigger pile of money than championship-winning women's team.
The women team's World Cup pay is part of a laundry list of other incidents in which the USWNT was unfairly compensated for their work. ESPN explains further in their story.
Perhaps, if U.S. Soccer really wanted to make strides in women's pro soccer (or in the larger industry of women's pro sports), the organization might pay their female players – who train and sweat just as hard as male players – an equal wage.