For over 120 years, women have been fighting for gender equality in the sport industry.
“I hope in my profession when I graduate, I can help with a change and educate more people in what they can do to help,” said Miranda McNalley, a senior sports and fitness administration major at Piedmont University.
McNalley presented her research on “The Difference in Salary, Media Coverage, and Amenities Between Genders in Professional Sports” at Piedmont’s annual Symposium, held on April 14, 2021. McNalley is a huge sports fan and as a woman athlete herself, she understands the problem women face when it comes to gender equality in the sports industry. McNalley gathered information and statistics on the unfairness between professional sport teams, including their salaries.
“Equal play and equal pay has been talked about for years. The Women’s National soccer team is better than the Men’s National [soccer] team, yet the women get paid way less,” McNalley said.
In McNalley’s presentation, she stated that the USWNT (United States Women’s National soccer team) was paid $2 million for winning the world championship, while the USMNT (United States Men’s National soccer team) received $9 million for only making it to the sweet 16 round of the tournament. The women’s team also has to play on turf, “which is artificial grass that is made out of tires,” McNalley added. The men’s team, however, has the luxury of playing on real grass.
Not only did McNalley discuss the pay difference and the teams’ playing conditions, but also the difference in media coverage. Forty percent of all sport participants are female; however, women’s sports only get 4% of media coverage. Women are also more likely to be portrayed in sexually provocative ways when they are covered by the media. They are more recognized for their impressive bodies, rather than their impressive skills on the field.
“I think especially being a female and going into the workforce next year, I would definitely like to have more fair opportunities,” said senior Cassie Kirk, a student-athlete who attended McNalley’s presentation.
McNalley also brought attention to the difference in amenities between genders. She gave the example of the NCAA mistreating the women basketball teams at a tournament this year. The women were given a few dumbbells for their workouts, while the men received an entire gym with full equipment to use and train with.
“As has been seen with the recent NCAA basketball and volleyball tournaments, our society has a long way to go in terms of gender monetary equity,” said Abbey Dondanville, associate dean for health sciences and McNalley’s faculty advisor.
“Colleges and professional teams fall back on ‘market share’ as explanation for the lower salaries and fewer amenities,” Dondanville said. “But it’s a problem they created and perpetuate. Many in our society see men as ‘athletes’ and then ‘girls playing games.’”
McNalley said she has a passion for sports and equality for all. This helped her research her topic and gather the information she did. McNalley wants to see a change in this industry and wants there to be equal opportunities for all athletes no matter who you are, what you look like, or how you play. Athletes should come together as one to end the divide between the salary differences, media coverage amount, and unfair amenities.
“I love sports and I hope to see a change in the future, and I hope to be a part of that change,” said McNalley