This is a little diversion from the hockey analysis and roundups I normally do (they will soon be coming too, I promise). When you look at statistics about the gender pay gap in most jobs, it is supposedly closing. I’ve seen figures about women being paid something between 68% to 94% of what men earn, and that got me thinking about where this pay gap is within the sporting world. Sadly, sport is the one area where this gap is still absolutely massive; there is some serious ground to be made towards gender equality. Here are a few graphs I drew up to show just how big a problem this is. I’ve done it with a focus on hockey, but honestly, you could choose almost any other sport and get similar results.
This shows the average amount a player in the NHL compared to the NWHL would earn per year. The NHL number is accurate for the 2014/15 season, whereas the NWHL figure is an estimate for what players will earn over the 2016/17 season.
Just in case you thought there were a few female super-stars earning big bucks, here is a graph showing otherwise. In 2014/15, Sidney Crosby- one of the most recognisable names in Hockey, earned over $16million in salary and endorsements. Meanwhile, Amanda Kessel of the New York Riveters signed a 1 year contract of $26,000, which has since been slashed by 50% to just $13,000 for this current season.
Number of Professional Teams:
By this point a pretty clear pattern should be emerging here. In North America alone there are 104 professional men’s teams (30 NHL, 30AHL, 27ECHL, 10SPHL, 7FPL), which doesn’t include the extensive youth development leagues. Meanwhile for women, there are just the 4 founding members of the NWHL or the 5 “semi-pro” teams of the CWHL.
The coverage of men’s sports far outweighs women’s. This can clearly be seen by the total attendance over the 2015/16 seasons for the NHL and NWHL (the NWHL figure has been estimated from rink capacities).
Phil and Amanda Kessel’s earnings
An interesting comparison between brother and sister can be made. Phil and Amanda Kessel are both elite quality hockey players, but their earnings vary massively. By the end of this current season, Phil Kessel will have earnt over $53million from playing hockey, whereas Amanda will have earnt $13,000 despite being one of the best female players around (hence the reason you can’t actually see any red on the graph).
There’s clearly a lot of work to be done within the sporting world, even in sports where women can earn a considerable amount. In tennis for example, female players are still far below what their male counterparts earn. Sadly, I don’t think we will realistically see gender equality in terms of pay within the hockey world any time soon. However, I do think that creating a self-sustaining league that pays women a decent livelihood to play hockey is achievable, and that is what everyone involved (NWHL, CWHL and beyond) should be striving for.