The shocking celebrity sports gender pay gap

Are male footballers worth 250 times their female counterparts? And what about male workers in general?

Stephanie Houghton

Sporting celebrities may seem to have it all, but if they're a woman, then there's one thing they definitely don't have - equality of earnings. That's not to say that famous sporting women are all struggling to get by on a meagre income, but the difference between what they are paid and what their male counterparts get is astonishing.

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Ladbrokes Sports has crunched the numbers, and the most shocking difference is on the football pitch. Wane Rooney may be England captain, and he may have scored a record number of goals for Manchester United, but he's gob-smackingly well paid for it. He takes home £306,850 a week.

Compare that Stephanie Houghton's income. The captain of Manchester City's women's team and the England women's football team makes just £1,247 a week. Compared to the average UK worker, she's well-paid, but she's hardy exactly average - she's the best female football player in the country.

Another shocking gap in pay is between tennis players. Andy Murray is currently the world number one for men's tennis, and his pay reflects that, at £253,639 a week. However, Venus Williams has been near the top of the ranking for as long as Murray, and earns just £28,297 a week. Of course this is an enormous pay packet - but you have to ask whether she is worth roughly a tenth of Andy Murray.

The study also looked at horse racing, where Jim Crawley makes £23,346 a week and Katie Walsh £3,825 a week; and boxing where Conor McGregor is worth £139,611 a week and Ronda Rousey £57,535 a week.

The only sport with equal pay is athletics, where Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis Hill both make £466 a week. Of course they both make a small fortune through endorsements too - but Bolt's earning power is streets ahead of Ennis Hill - making £24 million a year from sponsorship, compared to her £5 million.

Why?

There will always be those who argue that the audience for the men's games are so much larger that the difference in pay is justified. However, that isn't always the case. In sports where men and women compete side-by-side, such as horse racing, the gender pay gap endures.

Men and women put in the same hours training, and make the same sacrifices in their personal lives in order to be at the top of their game. In some cases women train far harder - with female jockeys training for an average of one hour more than their male counterparts every day - so the difference in pay hurts even more.

And for the rest of us

Meanwhile, the gender pay gap ensures for more typical workers too. Long after it became illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, women are still taking home far less than men - an average of £479 a week compared with £577 a week.

The government's latest step to address the gap will come into effect on 6 April - when major employers will be forced to publish their gender-based pay statistics every year.

The jury is out on whether this will make a blind bit of difference. There's an argument that women are still being paid less because of entrenched attitudes towards the value of women in the workforce, but there's also an incredibly wide phenomena of women being paid less because they require more flexibility at work.

While they remain the main carer for babies, children, and older relatives, many women will require flexibility in their roles. This may mean working part time, taking time off for caring responsibilities, or refusing projects involving travel or unreliable hours. There's an argument that you can legislate all you want, but until men and women share these roles equally, women all always pay a price for this flexibility.

But what do you think? Is the gender pay gap fair? Let us know in the comments.

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