Chants of “equal pay” filled the stadium in France on Sunday after the U.S. Women’s team took home their fourth World Cup championship.
Fans want the U.S. women’s team to be paid like the men. The team has sued the U.S. Soccer Federation with claims of “institutionalized gender discrimination”.
On Monday, KHOU’s Shern-min Chow sat down with Houston Dynamo great and Houston Dash founding executive Brian Ching.
Ching said men earn most money from their clubs but also get bonuses from federation games they play. The women earn salaries from the Federation, with smaller bonuses from games.
“The way it was set up was just because there was no league for the women to really get compensated and play, so the federation really had to fund the women,” Ching said. “It’s really hard to look at because there’s so many different trade-offs in the way that the women and men are paid to really say ‘Hey, this is fair.’”
Ching also says the more fans that show up to the games, the more money the teams earn. He says the Houston Dash average just 2,000 fans per game compared to more than 17,000 for the Dynamo.
“I’ve managed the women for a number of years, and with the product that they’re putting out on the field, and the effort, and everything that they give to the sport is the same on the men’s side, but obviously people aren’t just coming out yet,” Ching said.
Beyond sports, equal pay is an issue in industries across Houston, according to Jamie Belinne, Assistant Dean for Career Services at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business.
“Once we hit the executive levels, you start to see that divide widen over time,” said Belinne, adding it’s especially pronounced in traditionally male-dominated industries like energy and construction. “(Those industries are) working on it, but it’s a long road.”
According to a recent report from the American Association of University Women, a nonprofit that advocates for gender equality, women in Houston earn on average 82% of what men make, or nearly $9,400 less, a gap that’s often wider for non-Anglo women.
Belinne says there are a lot of contributing factors to pay gap.
“Women tend to not negotiate as hard as men do,” said Belinne. “The other thing is there is an assumption that women may not need as much money, and so people aren’t always as aggressive seeking out opportunities for them to make more money. We do tend to gravitate toward people that are like ourselves, and so often men are mentoring other men and pulling other men through the ranks.”
Belinne says discrimination could also be a factor. She says companies need to take a hard look at how they pay employees.
“If you’re not paying equitably, you’re not going to hire or keep the best people,” she said.
Belinne says some companies have programs to help employees with negotiating and asking for what they want assertively yet respectfully. She also says nonprofits like the Greater Houston Partnership have programs to help women with career advancement while providing networking opportunities.
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