Alex Morgan Shares Why She's Fighting for Equal Pay
Alex Morgan may be a professional soccer star, but she's also facing the same issue most U.S. women face: a gender wage gap. This month, Morgan and her fellow U.S. women's national teammates Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Rebecca Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the U.S. Soccer Federation, demanding the women's national team (WNT) players receive equal pay to the men's national team (MNT) players.
The WNT players are paid just 40 percent of what each player on the MNT makes, USA TODAY Sports reports. That discrepancy is greater than the average gender wage gap in the U.S. The Institute for Women's Policy Research reported in 2014 that the average full-time female worker makes just 79 cents for every dollar earned by a man — a gender wage gap of 21 percent. (Side note: That same institute reports that if the wage gap continues to close at the same rate it has over the past 50 years, pay parity won't be reached until 2059. We need to push for change, people.) What’s also ludicrous: The WNT — who've won three World Cup championships and four Olympic championships — generated $20 million more in revenue than the men's team last year.
On Tuesday's Equal Pay Day, Morgan penned a powerful essay for Cosmopolitan.com about why she's not backing down on fighting for equal pay. She says that, growing up, she never noticed a divide between girls and boys, and never considered that "one day, I would be raising my hand alongside my teammates asking our employer to pay us the same as our male counterparts that have the exact same job that we have." But she writes it's important to do:
"We think it's time for U.S. soccer to truly address the inequality and do what is right. This is not about the women's team going after the men’s team, or comparing stats and records with them. We love those guys, and they have come out publicly in support of our filing and have offered to help however possible. They have also fought their way to better compensation, and without them fighting for what they have, we would have no general benchmark for what we deserve: equal pay for equal play."
And Morgan notes how a gender wage gap is affecting not only women in soccer, but also those in other professions. "It's a pretty simple concept," she writes. "But as with so many professions in the United States, it is still not a reality for the female soccer players who represent this country." She says her and her teammates aren't just filing this complaint for themselves, but to set a new standard for all women not receiving the same respect and pay as men.
"We ultimately decided to file this motion for all the little girls around the world who deserve the same respect as well as the boys. They deserve a voice, and if we as professional athletes don‘t leverage the voices we have, we are letting them down. We will not let them down."
It's a bold and important move for Morgan and her teammates, and a great step to show just how pervasive the wage gap is across professions. Actress Jennifer Lawrence took a similar stance last year, when she penned an essay for Lenny, titled "Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?" The more people raising awareness and taking action against the gender pay gap, the better. Morgan is brave on and off the soccer field. Read her full essay here.
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