When comp-winning surfer Zoe Steyn was pictured last week with a giant cheque featuring half the prize money of her male counterpart, social media went into a spin regarding the blatant pay disparity.
Zoe had just won the women’s junior competition of the Ballito Pro junior tournament, and took home 4000 rand ($400), half that of Rio Waida, who won the men’s junior competition.
Since then, there have been a couple of crowdfunding efforts in order to raise the money required to make up for the disparity.
One such effort was started by the former head of diversity at Australia Post Lauren Jauncey, via a gofundme page. She’s raised more than the $400 disparity, hitting $930 in five days.
Lauren told me last night that she’s now been in contact with Zoe, who said she will donate her portion of the money raised to a local charity The Township Surf Project in South Africa, which aims to “get kids of the streets and into the ocean.”
The remaining money raised with go to the Layne Beachley Foundation, Aim For The Stars.
Lauren wrote on the gofundme page that the photo of the two young surfers standing next to each had “really pissed me off,” especially given the event had been sponsored by Billabong.
“There is absolutely no reason why this young talented woman, Zoe Steyn, should receive a winners prize cheque that is less than her male counterpart,” she said.
Lauren added that five years ago while working for Australia Post, the organisation used its sway as the sponsor of Australia richest foot race, the Stawell Gift, address the vast prize pool disparity that was $60,000 for men and $6,000 for women.
“As the major sponsor of the event we demanded change,” she said. “As a result Australia Post now sponsors the women’s race so that it is equal to the men’s race – $60k prize pool. Surprise surprise the number of entries in the women’s race has now significantly increased!”
The organisers of the Ballito Pro, a sanctioned competition of the World Surf League, had moved to justify the prize-pool discrepancy by saying that the number of men competing in the event was almost twice that of women.
As the Australia Post example demonstrates above, that’s the kind of thing that can be addressed with equal prize money.
Meanwhile, Zoe has shared a photo of herself with Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmore at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, today, where women have been invited to compete at the Corona Open J Bay for the first time in almost two decades.