After more than a year of fighting for change, the women recently won big: In January, the league announced a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement that gives the players higher salaries (top athletes can now earn over $500,000—triple the previous deal); better travel experiences (i. e. individual hotel rooms for each player and upgraded plane seats), and new health benefits including maternity and child care policies (think full salaires during maternity leave, an annual child care stipend, and more). “These changes still don’t amount to equality,” as Glamour previously wrote. “But they’re a huge and important step—one that could be a model for female athletes across sports.
Last spring, several Olympians-slash-mothers—including Alysia Montaño, Allyson Felix, and Kara Goucher—spoke out about the sporting industry’s lack of support for women athletes both during and after pregnancy. “The sports industry allows for men to have a full career,” Montaño said in an op-ed video for the Times last May. “When a woman decides to have a baby, it pushes women out at their prime. ” The women specifically called out Nike, Asics, The United States Olympic Committee, and U. S. A. Track & Field. “I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn’t be punished if I didn’t perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth,” Felix wrote in an op-ed for the Times published in May. “I wanted to set a new standard.
Even so, glaring equality gaps persist: At the 2014 and 2018 Winter Games, men had three separate ski jump events, while women only had one. "It's like, 'Here, we'll give you a little piece,' and then, 'Go away, leave us alone,'" Lindsey Van, a now-retired American ski jumper who helped lead the discrimination lawsuit, told the Chicago Tribune in 2018. "I still think that it's an old boys' club. " According to 2022 Beijing Games website, there will be a new mixed team event in ski jumping; there is no mention of any new women's-only competitions.
That changed when a coalition of international women ski jumpers filed a 2008 lawsuit against the Vancouver Organizing Committee, fighting their exclusion from the 2010 Winter Games in Canada on the grounds that it “violates every woman’s right to equal benefit under the law. ” Though the women didn’t win the right compete in Vancouver, they did gain access to the 2014 Sochi Games, representing a giant leap (or should we say jump) forward for the sport.
Women in sports are underpaid, undervalued and underfunded at every turn. But they’re fighting back—and winning. https://t.co/4JpHZe53A0— Glamour (@glamourmag) April 1, 2020