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Equal pay for equal play

For decades women have fought for their rights to be on an even playing field with their male counterparts, yet as a nation we still haven’t quite reached equality between the two.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Australia’s full-time gender pay gap sits at 14.1% with women earning on average $239.80 per week less than men. Although the gender pay gap is currently considerably lower than previous years, it spans almost every industry and sports is no different.

This month, Forbes top 100 highest paid athletes list of 2019was released. It may (or may not) come as a surprise to some that out of the 100 competitors only one female player made the cut. Serena Williams, Grand Slam winner and Olympic gold medallist, was ranked number 63 on the list earning a whopping $29.2 million. But her place on this list shines a clear spotlight on the disparity between men and women in professional sports.

Let’s rewind to 2015. Players of the Australian women’s national soccer team, the Matildas, went on strike over being paid well below the minimum wage. A basic Matildas contract was around $21,000 a year, two-thirds of the Australian minimum wage and a fraction of what their male Socceroo counterparts were earning. It was even reported that former team members had to line up for the dole and clean toilets while playing for their country.

But the imbalance isn’t only existent in the world of soccer. The average female AFL player earns between $13,000 to $19,000 whereas the average male AFL player earns around $370,000. Both genders play the same game, by the same rules, yet males earn hundreds of thousands more. Furthermore, the average male international cricketer earns about $278,000, with the average female cricketer earning a measly $72,000. The question still stands: why do females generally earn less?

In episode nine of The Few Who Do, hosts Jan Fran and Marc Fennell hear from two women advocating for fairer pay throughout the country, tackling the problem in very different ways.

The pair speak to former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, who founded the Male Champions of Change organisation(MCC) in a pursuit to tackle gender inequality in Australia, including in sport. She highlights that men need to be part of the solution due to the fact that they predominately hold power in corporations and government positions. 

Melanie Tait explores her battle for fairer pay after she discovered the winning prize for the famous Robertson Potato Racesin her hometown was $1,000 for a man and only $200 for a woman. Since then, the broadcaster, author and playwright has been creating awareness through crowdfunding and the arts, to prompt change.

To hear more about how Elizabeth and Melanie are working hard to close the pay gap between men and women in sport, tune into episode nine of the podcast presented by CGU in partnership with SBS, The Few Who Do – two hosts, one problem, two possibilities.