It started in 2016, when five members of the team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), asking to be paid as much as the players on the men’s team.
The request was left unresolved.
In 2017, the team negotiated a new deal– a collective bargaining agreement which increased the players’ salaries and improved contractual conditions. It was the first big step in the right direction, but certainly not the end of the fight.
On International Women’s Day of this year (March 8), 28 members of the world-champion United States women’s soccer team lodged a gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer. The suit claimed that female players worked just as hard as their male counterparts, but were still taking home a fraction of the salary. This is despite the fact the women are defending champions and the men failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that,” team member Alex Morgan said. “We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility. As players, we deserved to be paid equally for our work, regardless of our gender.”
It’s an outcome that former player, coach and Olympian Abby Wambach applauds.
Since retiring in 2015, Abby Wambach has led the charge against gender discrimination in sport. A speech she gave upon graduating Barnard College in 2018 has been downloaded and read a whopping 180.000 times. The message clearly resonating with many.
“Like all little girls, I was taught to be grateful. I was taught to keep my head down, stay on the path, and get my job done. I was freaking Little Red Riding Hood. The message is clear: Don’t be curious, don’t make trouble, don’t say too much, or bad things will happen. I stayed on the path out of fear—not of being eaten by a wolf—but of being cut, being benched, losing my paycheck. If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing, it would be this: ‘Abby, you were never Little Red Riding Hood; you were always the wolf.’”
After winning the World Cup in 2015, the U.S. women’s soccer team was paid a third of the men’s team earnings that same year. Now, the team is taking matters into their own hands to demand long overdue equal pay. https://t.co/GWs4nC7hLR
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) March 11, 2019
The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team is standing up to gender pay discrimination & demanding #equalpay. Grateful for their efforts & leadership in closing the #wagegap. #InternationalWomensDay https://t.co/KmjwPQh3ou
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 8, 2019
What better day than #InternationalWomensDay for this lawsuit. Sports are a microcosm of society. What is happening with the @USWNT is happening in the workplace. The time has come to give these athletes what they deserve: equality. https://t.co/VI5vhhlWyX
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) March 8, 2019
The suit has been supported by many high profile women including Chelsea Clinton, Billie Jean King and Serena Williams. It’s currently under review.