Rage Over Female Athlete Inequality

Over the last few months, there have been many complaints over inequality for female athletes. It has been prominent in women’s soccer and swimming at the Rio Olympic Games. The wage gap and comparisons made between men and women are two focal issues many of the complaints are surrounding.Fitzgerald, Inequality Infographic

Heather Wiley, an English teacher at Reynolds, believes the Rio Olympics were a major change for female athletes. “Suddenly people were taking notice of how female athletes were being portrayed and speaking out about it,” Wiley said.

During the Rio Olympics, many people noticed that women were compared to men or men were given credit for women’s success. For example, when Corey Cogdell won a bronze medal in shooting, the Chicago Tribune reported it as “Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins bronze medal today in the Rio Olympics.” This is clearly not giving Cogdell the credit she deserves and basically saying it was an achievement for her husband.

“[Females] are seen as lesser or unable to complete these feats through their own determination,” Wiley said.

An example very similar to the previous one is Katinka Hosszu, a Hungarian Olympic swimmer. She won three gold medals in the 100m backstroke, 400m IM and 200m IM and silver in 200m backstroke. Her husband had recently become her coach and that was all the news was talking about.

“All the announcers could talk about was how he made her who she was today,” Wiley said.

Also during the Olympics, there was an article that sparked a lot of debate on social media. In large, bold letters it read “Phelps ties for silver in 100 fly.” Below, in smaller letters, it said, “Ledecky sets world record in women’s 800 freestyle.” Ledecky’s feat is obviously more newsworthy and a much bigger accomplishment than Phelps’, yet Phelps is the one who is spotlighted.

“During the Olympics, they to referred Katie Ledecky as being the next Michael Phelps, but she’s her own person and she has her own accomplishments,” said Ally Morgan, a Reynolds junior.

Another place there has been controversy is in women’s soccer.

The US Women’s National Team (USNWT) has spoken up about the wage gap between themselves and the men’s team,  whose first place bonus is $315,625 larger than the women’s.

“[The wage gap] upsets me a lot because the women have always clearly been a better team than the men’s team, yet they’re paid less even though they win and the men lose,” Morgan said, “That obviously doesn’t make any sense.”

The USNWT has won three World Cups, including the first Women’s World Cup in 1991 whereas the men have won none. The women have been much more successful but the men still make monumentally more money.

This topics just brushes the top of what is female athlete inequality today but all of these problems are being addressed by various people which shows progress towards ending inequality is being made, although not fast enough.

Photos from Team USA/Sports Star Live/Google Images