Unequal Pay in Racing
Recently, an article came out highlighting the unequal pay for men and women in cycling. Luckily, this was an article about how someone is trying to do something about it.
I recommend that you read the article itself, but briefly the issue was that Lea Davison, a mountain biker, was “disappointed in the discrepancy between the men’s and women’s podium.” So a local company in Rhode Island–G-Form LLC–stood up for women and contributed funds to fill in the gap. The article notes that this unequal pay is an issue in all of sports, not just cycling.
But I was curious about exactly how much the difference was. This was not very easy for me to figure out! I came across this website that states:
Elite Women, 40 min, $40 fee: $2,013.00 “25 deep” (saturday) and then $1,319.00 “15 deep” (Sunday)
Elite Men, 60 min, $45 fee: $8,494.00 “30 deep” (saturday) and then $2,013.00 “25 deep” (Sunday)
I also noticed that for Cat 3, men get a monetary prize ($500.00), whereas for women it’s lumped into other categories and they don’t get a monetary prize.
In full disclosure, I have never raced before and I have no idea what “25 deep” etc even means. Nor do I get why there were different prizes for different days (both were for Elite races?) So, clearly, I have much to learn. Regardless, you cannot deny that the difference between pay is HUGE! For the Elite group, that’s $6,481.00 more for men than for women.
Now, I’ve purchased a nice road bike and accessories and clothes and so on. So has Jason (my partner). We pay the same price. There are no discounts for women’s merch or bikes. So, women and men need to pay the same price for things. Women also work their ass off just as much as men. While training, I am sure women don’t “take it easy” just because they’re a woman. They put in the same amount of work, same cost…yet, when it comes time to actually race, they get over $6,000.00 less money just because they’re a woman? If you wanted to argue that men had to do more during the race than woman…$6,000.00 more? No. This should not be tolerated!
Sexism in Cycling
Unequal pay for equal work is a consequence of a sexist society. A society where all things male and “manly” are valued more so than women and “womanly” things. Sports are “manly” things to do. Women can play, but we (society, spectators, other cyclists) don’t enjoy it as much because they aren’t men. At least, that’s the message that gets sent when there are different prizes based on gender.
I think that what Richard Fries (a man!) G-Form did was laudable. Him, and the company, acknowledged the problem with gender-based prizes and sought to change it. I am glad that someone stepped up in an attempt to make change.
I hope that people don’t think it’s equal now, though. This move, in no way, made things “equal” for women. If we can move towards a goal where the actual sponsors of the race mandate equal prizes for men and women, then we will be a step closer to equality. Leaving it up to small, local companies–or even bigger companies that sponsor individual cyclists–wont actually change the problem. Because, the problem is that cyclist people in general don’t value women as much as men right now.
(Note: photo source: here)