Wage Wars: A look at the wage gap in athletics

Women are receiving less money than males in athletics and this is why.


FAU Women’s Basketball Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay $169,000 annual salary. Photo by Max Jackson | Photo Editor

Josue Simplice, Sports Editor

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 1.13.07 PMTwo coaches have the same responsibilities, the same contracts, about the same level of coaching pedigree and are employed by the same school, but one coach makes almost twice as much as the other.

FAU women’s basketball head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay makes $169,000 annually, while men’s basketball coach Michael Curry makes $325,000. Their contracts list identical duties.

Men’s golf coach Angelo Sands makes $33,000 while women’s golf coach Kathy Baker-Guadagnino earns $30,000, and they share the same contracts and duties.

FAU women’s tennis coach Marcy Hora-Cava who has played or coached tennis professionally for 26 years makes $2,400 less than her less experienced male counterpart Ricardo Gonzalez who is coaching for the first time in his career at FAU, $42,400 to $40,000.

To explain these occurrences, you have to delve into some deep-rooted economic and social problems in American society.

Women do not make as much as men in this country and this is a trend that does not seem to be changing. The U.S. Senate estimates that women in 2012 made 84.9 cents for every dollar a man made, but in 2013 that number fell to 83.2 cents.

A so-called glass ceiling places an unseen limit on the amount a woman will make in her lifetime, and it keeps women from having upward mobility in their careers.“It keeps women from moving from mid-level managerial positions to top-level positions,” says FAU women’s studies professor Mark Harvey. “It’s called the glass ceiling, because since the Civil Rights Era, it is no longer legal to have explicit policies barring women from high-level positions.”

Women also are not able to gain the institutional support and aid of their male counterparts because of the revenue that their sports programs bring in. FAU men’s basketball received $94,821, compared to $71,116 for women’s basketball. Institutional support is state funds, tuition, tuition waivers, transfers and federal work study — which support student-athletes.

The disparity is not only in athletics at FAU, but also in the professional realm. Problems occur across all 50 states even though salaries, pay and aid may increase. According to the Sun Sentinel, median weekly wage for Florida women increased $3 a week from $676 in 2012 to $679 in 2013, while men’s weekly wages grew $20, from $796 to $816.

Sharmila Vishwasrao, a female associate professor in the FAU economics department, believes the wage gap is due to the homemaking responsibilities that many women have.

“Women might take breaks from work for personal reasons, for child rearing, etc., and that is expensive in that you very rarely catch up with people who have been working continuously and also the reason women have less work experience,” she says.

The fact that a majority of high-level and high social positions in society are occupied by males contributes to the wage gap in sports as particularly.

FAU Men's Basketball Coach Michael Curry $325,000 annual salary. Photo by Max Jackson | Photo Editor
FAU Men’s Basketball Coach Michael Curry $325,000 annual salary. Photo by Max Jackson | Photo Editor

“Sports is a masculine institution in which women are subordinate participants. It is reasonable to assume that the glass ceiling and mommy track [women leaving work due to child rearing] also apply,” says Harvey.

Vishwasrao suggests women could move toward making the same amount as their male counterparts in both sports and the workplace once women are afforded the same amount of free time as men.

Capture333“I think the reason the last 5-6 percent of the wage gap has been resistant to change is because it is based on differences in productivity rather than educational attainment, experience, choice of occupation or bias,” says Vishwasrao. “Women are productive at their paid jobs at work and their unpaid jobs at home – but they are splitting their efforts in both these directions. Maybe if we were to behave just like men with respect to housework and childrearing, we could close the gender wage gap.”

Thanks to an executive order passed by President Barack Obama in 2014, women and men are freely able to discuss their salary with their employers.More progress has been made in the forms of laws such as the The Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the three Fair Pay Acts (2012, 2013, 2014) that require women in the same workplace as men be given the same pay.

All have helped close the wage gap and have deterred some discrimination in the workplace. Only time will tell if men’s and women’s pay will equal each other.

“I think women are more capable than ever now and it’s about time the wage gap closes, but unfortunately we still have to worry about the glass ceiling,” says Britney Bodden, a senior accounting major.