US Soccer says women's team has made more than the men

FILE - In this July 7, 2019 file photo United States' team celebrates with the trophy after winning the Women's World Cup final soccer match between US and The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France. U.S. Soccer says the players on the World Cup champion women's national team were paid more than their male counterparts from 2010 through 2018. According to a letter released Monday, July 29, 2019 by U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, the federation has paid out $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the women as opposed to $26.4 million paid to the men. Those figures do not include the benefits received only by the women, like health care.

Women in Congress capitalized on the recent attention on the women’s soccer team pay fight to introduce legislation to address the disparity in both compensation and investment into national sports teams. The “Even Playing Field Act” would amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act in two significant ways.

First it would require the national governing bodies of U.S. sports teams to make equitable investments in women’s teams and offer equal pay and wages.

And, perhaps more importantly, it would require the governing bodies to report annually to Congress on the compensation of players, coaches, administrators and staff, broken down by race, gender and employment category. It’s a reasonable measure, and should pass with bipartisan support. Transparency is one of the most powerful weapons against pay disparity, and is also a major feature of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has languished in Congress for more than a decade.

This legislation prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who share their salary information and requires some employers to report their wage rates for general job classifications. As the women’s soccer players know, public transparency about wages can shift public sentiment. This bill also deserves bipartisan support.

The reasons the pay gap persists are complicated and not necessarily caused by deliberate discrimination, but are nevertheless real. Collectively, women make some 20% less than men. Some are paid less because their career trajectories took them down different paths or into female-dominated professions that are traditionally valued less than similarly skilled fields dominated primarily by men.

But sometimes it’s just because an employer could get away with paying female workers less than men. That’s wrong and these measures could help stop it.

This could be a breakthrough moment for the equal pay movement if the women’s soccer team’s exhortations can be turned into real action.

— Los Angeles Times

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