The integration of the men’s and women’s tournaments only highlight how differently competitors were treated. The total prize money for the men’s event it’s up to 16 times the amount for the women’s tournament, as the case of last cricket World Twenty20 competitions.
The origins of this difference lie 150 years ago in the birth of modern sport. According to Tony Collins, author of Sport in Capitalist Society, Victorian society viewed sport as “inseparable from the philosophy of Muscular Christianity, which defined itself against femininity and ‘softness’”.
Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern Olympic Games in 1896, described women’s sport as “the most unaesthetic sight human eyes could contemplate”. In 1921, the Football Association in England considered the sport “quite unsuitable for females” and banned its clubs from allowing women. From 1928 to 1960, women were not allowed to compete in races of more than 200 meters, because it was felt that running for longer made them too tired. It took until 1984 for women to make up one-fifth of competing athletes in the Olympics.
The huge funding disproportion between male and female sport means that women have fewer opportunities to play sport, suffer from inadequate coaching and facilities compared with those enjoyed by men, and have been paid scanty sums, even for international sport. This has damaged the quality of sport and the attractiveness of the product to fans and broadcasters. Due to the lack of rewards, many leading players retire prematurely. Greater gender equality in the funding of US sports has actually led to a huge decrease in the number of female coaches.
Some tentative progress in gender equality is now being made off the pitch: 30 per cent of those sitting on the boards of sports organizations funded by Sport England are now women. Advances have been slower around the world: almost half of National Olympic Committees surveyed have fewer than 20 per cent of women on their Executive Boards, including ten nations who had no women at all.
On the field, equal prize money is becoming more common. Globally, more and more major sports pay equal prize money to men and women. Olympians are still not paid prize money by the Games, although most countries offer their medal winners prize money, and sums are equal for men and women. The greatest cause for optimism is in the rising quality of female sport: the gradual increase in spending on women’s sports is now being reflected in a product that more spectators want to watch.
The gender prize money gap in sport is closing with more sports than ever achieving parity at the top level, a 2017 study has found. A total of 83% of sports now reward men and women equally, according to the study commissioned for Women’s Sport Week.
Cricket, golf and football showed some of the biggest disparities although prize money for women has increased substantially in these sports over the past three years. In other sports, women are allowed to enter the world championships but have their own separate competitions, where prize money is a lot less.
The study looked at prize money for world championships and events of an equivalent standard only, and does not include wages, bonuses or sponsorship. It found that 35 pay equally out of 44 sports that pay prize money. Sign up at Heritagesports.