Rapinoe on gender pay gap: there’s no level of status that will protect you

Megan Rapinoe and Midge Purce were invited to the White House to to discuss the USWNT's equal pay lawsuit and the gender wage gap in sports
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March 24 is “Equal Pay Day,” the symbolic date that represents how far into 2021 the average American woman has to work to match what her male counterpart made in 2020 alone.

But not for those in women’s sports. For many female athletes, the figurative “Equal Pay Day” is years away.

On Wednesday, in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe testified that “there is no level of status, accomplishments, or power that will protect you from the clutches of inequity.”

Rapinoe continued:

We have filled stadiums, we’ve broken viewing records, and sold out jerseys – all popular metrics by which we are judged. And yet, despite all of this, we’re still paid less than our male counterparts. For each trophy, of which there are many, for each win, for each tie, for each time we play, [we are paid] less.

In fact, instead of lobbying with the women’s team in our efforts for equal pay and equality in general, the U.S. Soccer Federation has continually lobbied against our efforts, and the efforts of millions of people marginalized by gender in the United States. And if it can happen to us, and it can happen to me – with the brightest light shining on us at all times – it can, and it does, happen to every person who is marginalized by gender.

During the hearing, Republican Representative Scott Franklin of Florida attempted to get Rapinoe’s support for the current anti-trans bills that more than 20 states are currently considering.

“As a member of the LGBTQ community, I firmly stand with the trans family and that whole community,” Rapinoe responded. “And as someone who has played sports with someone who is trans I can assure you all is well, nothing is spontaneously combusting.”

[READ MORE: In these sports, ‘Equal Pay Day’ is years away]

Later in the day, Rapinoe and teammate Midge Purce were invited to the White House to discuss the USWNT’s equal pay lawsuit with President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

“Doesn’t matter if you’re an electrician, an accountant or part of the best damn soccer team in the world,” President Biden said. “The pay gap is real. And this team is living proof that you can be the very best at what you do and still have to fight for equal pay.”

Purce used her moment at the podium to highlight the perpetual underinvestment in women’s sports, saying, “You would never expect a flower to bloom without water. But women in sport – who have been denied water, sunlight, and soil – are somehow expected to blossom.”

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