'Devalued, disrespected, dismissed': Megan Rapinoe speaks on equal pay at White House

‘Devalued, disrespected, dismissed’: Megan Rapinoe speaks on equal pay at White House

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe, captain of the US Women’s National Soccer Team, says she’s been devalued, disrespected and dismissed in her career because she is a woman.

Appearing at the White House, on the invitation of President Joe Biden in honour of Equal Pay Day, Rapinoe gave a speech about her experience of pay disparity in sport.

Rapinoe has been a leading force in the fight for equal pay for women in sport since the US Women’s National Soccer Team filed a lawsuit on unequal pay in 2019. Last year, a federal judge dismissed the players’ claims they had been systematically underpaid because of their gender.

In December 2020, the team reached a settlement with their employer US Soccer, on some improved working conditions, but is still facing an uphill battle to secure equal pay.

“I’m a member of the LGBTQ community, with pink hair. Where I come from, I could have only dreamed that I would be standing in the position I am today at the White House,” Rapinoe’s speech began.

“I’m also a professional athlete. I’ve helped, along with all of my teammates…win four World Cup Championships and four Olympic gold medals for the United States.

“And despite those wins, I’ve been devalued, I’ve been disrespected and dismissed because I am a woman. And I’ve been told that I don’t deserve any more, than less. Because I am a woman.

“You see, despite all the wins, I’m still paid less than men who do the same job as I do. For each trophy, of which there are many, and for each win, for each tie and for each time that we play, it’s less.

Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.

“And I know there are millions of people who are marginalised by gender in the world and experience the same thing in their jobs. And I know there are people who experience even more, where the layers of discrimination continue to stack against them.

“And I and my teammates, are here for them. We on the US Women’s National Team today are here because of them.”

In May last year, Joe Biden publicly offered his support for the US Women’s Soccer Team’s lawsuit against their employer, and when the judge dismissed their claims, he condemned US Soccer.

“To @USSoccer: equal pay, now. Or else when I’m president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding,” he tweeted at the time.

Following Rapinoe’s speech at the White House this week, Biden said: “The reality though is that in nearly every job, more than 90% of the occupations, women still earn less than men. Eighty-two cents on the dollar, on average. The pay gap is real.” 

Rapinoe also testified at the House Oversight Committee about the need to close the gender pay gap in the US.

“Equal pay and equality in general is a deep and personal passion of mine,” Rapinoe said in her opening statement at the committee.

“What we’ve learned, and what we continue to learn, is that there is no level of status, accomplishments or power that will protect you from the clutches of inequity.

“One cannot simply outperform inequality of any kind. I know first-hand that this is true.”

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