Megan Rapinoe Lays Out Why The U.S. Women's Soccer Team Deserves Better — and Hillary Clinton Approves
Wage discrimination affects American women across all professional fields, from your local diner's waitress to the Wall Street executive to some of the best athletes in the country. On Tuesday, Glassdoor hosted a round table discussion with guest U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe tackling wage inequality. With four other team members, Rapinoe recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission highlighting how the U.S. Soccer Federation pays the women far less than the men's team. In its history, the women's team has won World Cups and gold medals at the Olympics while facing a past of wage discrimination. Why file the complaint now?
"It's never going to be the perfect time, you're never going to have every single fact that you need," Rapinoe said Tuesday. "But just taking action now, using your voice, standing up and just not accepting something you know in your heart and you know in your gut to be unequal."
Hillary Clinton, also a guest at the round table, spoke in support of Rapinoe.
We cheered when they won the World Cup and we cheered when they won the Olympic gold medal and we noticed that our men's team hasn't yet done that. Yet somehow, the men are making hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the women. You know the phrase equal pay for equal work. Well in America, we also believe in equal pay for equal play too.
"We should just be happy we're there, right?" Rapinoe said dryly.
According to a Newsweek report, the pay disparity between the women's and men's soccer teams is abysmal: Each player on the USWNT earns $99,000 per year as long as the team wins 20 "friendlies." On the other hand, each men's player would earn $263,320 for the same feat and would still earn $100,000 even if the team lost all 20 games. The women get no extra pay for playing more matches, while the men earn anywhere between $5,000 and $17,625 for each additional match.
The issue is magnified by the fact that the women's soccer team won the World Cup in 1991, 1999 and 2015; the men have never won a World Cup. And last summer's Women's World Cup final was the most watched soccer match — men's or women's — ever in the United States, with over 25 million viewers.
When the women's team found out they had generated over $17 million for the U.S. Soccer Federation last year, "that was the tipping point," said Rapinoe. But regardless of all the numbers, Rapinoe said she still felt taking a stand for themselves was simply "the right thing to do."
Rapinoe is right — it is simply, timelessly, "the right thing to do." Pay equality does not only hinge on business decisions, such as how much revenue the team raked in last year. It's also a moral decision reflecting the idea that in 2016, in a post-Title IX country, wage discrimination should not exist. Amidst all the outrage over data and statistics, Rapinoe gave us this a firm reminder.
"There's kind of the argument of being twice as good all the time," she said, referring to meeting the differences in evaluations of women and men in the workplace. "But you want to be good enough just the way you are. We're very good the way we are."