Time for a quick trivia question: What was notable about March 24, 2021?
That’s the date for Equal Pay Day, the day that symbolizes the gender pay gap in the United States. Based on the disparity between men’s and women’s average salaries, women needed to work until March 24 of 2021 to equal the pay men received for 2020.
Women are paid $0.82 for every $1 earned by men in America, the Center for American Progress reported. That means the gender pay gap is 18 cents for every dollar made.
U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe highlighted the disparity in a speech to the House Oversight Committee. “What we’ve learned, and what we continue to learn, is that there is no level of status — and there’s no accomplishment or power — that will protect you from the clutches of inequity,” she said.
A recent GOBankingRates study analyzed the gender pay gap in women’s professional sports, specifically in a pro sports league (the WNBA) and an individual sport (UFC). Read on to learn more about the gender gap in sports.
Big Gap at the Top of Pro Basketball
Starting at the top, the highest-paid WNBA players’ salary ($221,450, per league rules) pales in comparison to the No. 1 NBA player’s paycheck of $43,006,362 for a season.
In the WNBA, six players receive the max salary: the Phoenix Mercury’s Skylar Diggins-Smith, Britney Griner and Diana Taurasi; the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird; the Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne; and the Connecticut Sun’s DeWanna Bonner.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry tops the men’s salary ranks at $43,006,362.
That’s a gender pay gap of a whopping 99.49 cents for every dollar.
Average Isn’t Much Better
Breaking down the top 10 highest-paid WNBA players versus their NBA counterparts doesn’t yield much improvement in the pay gap.
Using numbers from Spotrac.com, the top 10 WNBA players average $213,770 per season, while the NBA’s top group earns $39,287,625 on average.
Now the gender pay gap is 99.56 cents per dollar.
One number that needs to be accounted for is the difference in the length of seasons, because NBA teams play an 82-game season, while the WNBA squads have a shorter, 34-game calendar.
Taking that into consideration, the top 10 highest-paid WNBA players earn $5,938 per game, while their NBA counterparts earn $545,661 per contest.
That gender pay gap comes out to 98.9 cents to the dollar.
Gender Pay Gap in the UFC
You’d think the UFC might have a smaller gender gap, with the rise of stars such as Ronda Rousey and then Amanda Nunes. Rousey was the first women’s fighter to be a headliner, back in 2013 in UFC 157.
And that’s true, as Nunes recently made $490,000 for her victory over Felicia Spencer as the UFC 250 headliner. However, that’s still $550,000 less than Jan Błachowicz made as the men’s UFC 259 winner ($1,040,000).
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Interestingly, when men and women are co-headliners, the gender pay gap is substantially reduced.
UFC 255 was the most recent fight card with co-headliners. Men’s winner Deiveson Figueiredo won $690,000 for his victory over Alex Perez, and women’s champ Valentina Shevchenko earned $630,000 for beating Jennifer Maia.
That’s a gender pay gap of “only” 8.7 cents per dollar.
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Methodology: In order to find underpaid female athletes, GOBankingRates looked at the discrepancy in pay in the WNBA as compared to the NBA as well as between women and men fighters within the UFC. First, GOBankingRates used Spotrac data to find (1) the 10 highest-paid players in the WNBA and (2) the 10 highest-paid players in the NBA. With these 20 players highlighted, GOBankingRates found (3) how much less the 10 highest-paid WNBA players make in a season and a single game than the top 10 highest-paid NBA Players; as well as (4) the percent of what the top 10 WNBA players make compared to the 10 highest-paid NBA for both a season and single game. For the UFC, GOBankingRaes found the last female-only led fight card (UFC 250), the last co-gender headlined fight card (UFC 255) and last male-only (with available data) led fight (UFC 259). For each of these headline fights, GOBankingRates found the total winnings for both winners and losers and then compared the fights to find (5) how much less women fighters made in comparable fights and (6) the percent women fighters made compared to men fighters in comparable fights. All data was collected on and up to date as of April 12, 2021.