Gender Equality

Setting the Standard: The World Surf League Announces Equal Prize Money For Men and Women

Back in May I was pretty distraught and worked-up over the fact that during the 2018 Boston Marathon the women who placed 5th would have received $15,000 if she were a man. Of course, this isn’t a just a problem for those of us wanting to compete in the Boston Marathon. The procedure is the same at most major marathons, such as New York, London, and Berlin.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that that procedure may hopefully be on it’s way out thanks to the World Surf League (WSL).

After the winner of the Ballito Pro under-18’s women’s competition received exactly half of her male counterpart in June the WSL received a lot of criticism — which was deserved.

The WSL listened. And, starting in 2019, will become the first U.S.-based global sports league to implement pay parity at all events under its control.

“This is a huge step forward in our long-planned strategy to elevate women’s surfing and we are thrilled to make this commitment as we reveal our new 2019 schedule,” WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said in a statement online.

“This is the latest in a series of actions the League has undertaken to showcase our female athletes, from competing on the same quality waves as the men, to better locations, and increased investment and support.”

As for the events that aren’t under the control of the WSL, like certain qualifying events, WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow said it would work with partners to “achieve equality as soon as possible.”

“I feel like the momentum in our society to have this conversation is incredible — because it’s not just in surfing, or in sport, that women are fighting for equality in the workplace. It’s everywhere,” wrote Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmore in The Players’ Tribune.

“And for this announcement to come now, and for it to happen during my career — and then to have the support of so many male surfers, including Kelly Slater — is unbelievable.”

“This is an important moment for surfing, but it’s also deeply personal for me because I was raised by a single mom,” added Kelly Slater. “My dad was out of the house by the time I was 10 or 11, and my mom basically raised three boys on a single paycheck. She was a firefighter — the only female firefighter in our county. This was in the late ’70s, early ’80s, so it was a different time. She faced a lot of equality issues at her job. And I still think about my mom and what it must have been like for her to work as hard as she did to do the exact same job as the men next to her, and then go home and raise three young men of her own — and to be underpaid and underappreciated for it.”

“My mom and women like her deserved better then, and our women — all women — deserve better. Now.”

Considering that women earn 89 cents for every dollar a man made in the 25-34 age group, which is the smallest pay gap among workers, there’s still a lot of work to be done. But, the fact that organizations like the World Surf League are awarding equal prize money to men and women, is definitely a move into the right direction.

Your move next Boston Marathon.

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