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Here’s a story timed for International Women’s Day: The US women’s soccer team has filed suit against the US Soccer Federation claiming “institutionalized gender discrimination.” The lawsuit alleges that despite doing the same work as the men’s team the women are getting lesser training facilities, travel, coaching and pay. “Female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts. This is true even though [female players’] performance has been superior to that of the male players – with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions." Facts: The women’s team placed 1st in the 2015 World Cup; the men didn’t make it past the round of 16. The women’s team has medaled in every Olympics since 1991 (except 2016), placing 1st in 1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012 + ranked number 1 or 2 since 2003. The men’s team hasn’t medaled in a single Olympics since 1930 and is ranked 25th globally.
And yet the men are paid more. Just how extreme is the difference? As of 2016, if a woman won every required game she played in, she’d make $99,000. And the men? $263,320. (Source: EEOC complaint). Context: US women soccer players are guaranteed a salary and men are not. Men’s bonuses make up the difference.
This isn’t a new complaint. In a 2016 EEOC complaint, 5 members of the women’s team cited these figures and many of the same inequities. There’s been no action on it. That’s why the team sought a right-to-sue letter—and got it. (Note: In 2017, the women’s team successfully negotiated a collective bargaining agreement winning a 30% increase in base pay from US soccer -- still doesn’t get them to equal pay.) All 28 members of the women’s team have joined the new lawsuit. They are demanding millions in back pay and damages. Big-name stars like World Cup champions Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are sure to amplify the suit. The team is also hoping to expand the suit to a class-action, to include any team member since early 2015.
What’s next: Expect this issue to get a lot more attention. The women’s team defends its championship title at the 2019 World Cup in France on June 7.
A big thank you to one of my favorite people, Sylvia Whitman, for sending me my next reading adventure! Sylvia runs one of my favorite places in Paris, the incredible bookstore Shakespeare and Company, and I read everything she tells me to. Read with me and let me know what you think. #rachelcusk#shakespeareandcompany