||This research analyzes whether there is a role for policy to ensure gender pay equality
in professional American sports. In 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments prohibited
discrimination on the basis of sex in federally-funded educational institutions, which
granted equal opportunities for women and men to compete in college athletics. A policy
like this does not exist past college and professional female athletes continue to
be paid less than professional male athletes. This discrepancy is largely due to a
history of gender bias and female exclusion from athletic participation. Professional
basketball, soccer, and tennis present a gradient of what gender pay inequality is
like in American sports. The NBA and WNBA are examples of highly unequal professional
sports leagues in terms of viewership, endorsement deals, and in athlete salaries.
The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has won the last two World Cup Championships,
but receives marginally lower earnings; and professional tennis has nearly achieved
gender pay equality by providing equal payout at Grand Slam events. To understand
where discrepancies lie in the policies that govern the sports leagues, I completed
a comparative policy analysis, assessed the media coverage of one major event for
each gender across the three sports, and investigated the public conversation surrounding
gender parity in professional sports. The results indicate that an overarching policy
to eliminate or lessen the gender pay divide in professional sports is not feasible.
The market for women versus men’s sports is stark, but individual organizations can
make strides toward equality in their own ways.