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美国女足:为男女同酬而奋斗

Jen Wieczner 2019年10月22日

尽管争取同酬是一个长期斗争,但女足已经对其他体育赛事带来了实质性的影响。

美国女子足球队球员(从左到右):梅根·拉皮诺埃,阿莱克斯·摩根和克里斯汀·普雷斯。图片来源:Rebecca Greenfield for Fortune
 

今年7月,法国里昂一个炎热的夜晚,美国女子国家足球队打败了荷兰队,连续第二年赢得世界杯。然而就在队员们伫立于球场上等待颁奖时,观众席上突然喊起了口号。站在球场中的球员克里斯汀·普雷斯和阿莱克斯·摩根回忆道,她们根本不知道人群都在喊什么。直到数天后球队凯旋回归纽约市时,她们又听到了同样的口号,这才明白当时观众们所呐喊的内容:“同酬!同酬!”担任前锋的普雷斯对《财富》杂志说:“我都哭了,太让我惊讶了。”

2015世界杯那年,该团队亦获得了声势浩大的迎接,这些呐喊声并非自此之后出现的唯一变化。那时,该团队还没有起诉其雇主美国足球联盟,指控其违反同酬和民权法。(她们在2016年向同等就业机会委员会提交了投诉,并于今年3月向加州法院提起诉讼。)其文化背景也发生了深远变化。2017女性游行打破了美国历史记录,成为了最大的游行活动,也再次引发了社会对性别平等、女权和性骚扰等话题的迫切关注。女子足球队联合队长、前锋梅根·拉皮诺埃称:“这一次,我们更为深刻地意识到,自己已经加入了一场更为宏大的运动。在回家后的前几天,我觉得‘这场运动比我想象的要大得多。’”

美国教育法第九篇修正案成为美国法律已经过去了47个年头,它旨在禁止学校中的性别歧视,并要求体育课程对男孩、女孩一视同仁。然而,女性职业体育仍然比男性落后不止一个时代,女子赛队更少,而且通常观众群体也更少。同酬十分少见,在足球和棒球等体育领域基本不存在。如今,体育领域出现了这一苗头,而且运动员也纷纷声援性别平等,这期间打头阵的便是女子足球队,而她们骄人的成绩也为其带来了国际关注(也在我们的年度榜单中赢得了特殊的地位)。

体育界的呼声类似于娱乐行业出现的“#MeToo”运动。在这场运动中,披露性骚扰事件的女性演员也开始在台前台后呼吁同酬以及更大的话语权。德勤前任首席执行官、国家女子篮球联盟新理事凯茜·英吉尔波特说:“女子体育界迎来了一个好时期,我们的联盟也呈现出良好的发展态势,而且女性赋权运动也在如火如荼地开展当中。”两大运动的交汇也解释了为什么Time’s Up组织会在今年夏天与女子足球队合作发起一场资金筹集活动,该活动旨在帮助所有女性消除薪酬差距。Time’s Up是一家总部位于洛杉矶的组织,围绕#MeToo运动而成立。拉皮诺埃在谈论Time’s Up时说:“我们在其中多少看到了自己的影子。”

起诉美国足联的案件是首起职业体育队起诉其雇主存在性别歧视的案件。美国足球界的不同之处在于,一家机构同时是男足和女足的雇主,正因为如此,作为一个法律案件,它更能够说明待遇的不公平性。与此同时,女足在球场上的成绩和受欢迎程度也为其争取经济支持提供了更好的说辞。女足表示,她们自2015年以来在盈利能力方面已经超过了男子足球队。例如,美国足联预测,女子足球队在2017财年会创造500万美元的利润,而男子足球队会亏损100万美元。然而,在美国足联的薪酬构架下,男球员的薪酬远高于女球员。2014年,也就是美国男子足球队上一次入围世界杯时,他们在16强便遭到了淘汰,但借助各种名目的分红,他们获得的薪酬大约是2015年世界杯夺冠女球员的3倍。(美国足联否认存在歧视行为,并在一份法庭文件中指出,因为男性和女性在国际上的“竞争环境存在巨大差异”,“无法对其相应的成绩和薪酬进行比较。”)担任前锋的联合队长摩根说:“似乎[这场官司]是女子足球队一直以来注定要迈出的一步。”普雷斯说:“打赢这场官司是我们在改变世界、让世界变得更美好方面所能做的最重要的一件事情。”

尽管争取同酬是一个长期斗争,但女足已经对其他体育赛事带来了实质性的影响,也激励着其他女性提出了涨薪要求。今年,世界冲浪联盟开始向男、女冲浪选手授予同等金额的奖金。在冰球界,数千名女性当前拒绝参加北美职业联盟赛事,并要求获得更好的薪酬和赛事标准。在因为薪酬争议拒绝参加2017年世界冰球锦标赛之前,美国女子国家冰球队的前锋肯达尔·科因·斯卡菲尔德曾经与女足队员进行了商谈。科因·斯卡菲尔德回忆说:“我们看着她们说:‘如果她们可以这样做,我们也可以。’”

美国女子篮球联盟正在与球员商谈一份新的合约。该联盟的英吉尔伯特表示,她一直致力于改善女球员的薪酬和差旅待遇,但她也警告说:“人们需要改善联盟的经济状况,才能为球员提供更多的支持。”最终她认为,女子体育项目的提升不仅仅会造福赛事本身,也会为吸纳企业赞助资金(当前女子体育项目吸纳的金额不到5%)创造更多的机会,同时还会激励女性实现自我并发挥引领作用。

网球界的传奇人物比利·简·金的呼吁在数十年前帮助实现了网球的同酬。她十分理解当前的态势。在1973年知名的“性别之战”中击败了网球男星鲍比·雷格斯之后,金表示,自己听说有女职员恨不得在第二天就向老板提出涨薪要求。她向《财富》杂志透露,“体育是一个能够带来变化的平台。我们可以借此向平等迈进。”(财富中文网)

本文另一版本登载于《财富》杂志2019年10月刊,是“最具影响力的商界女性”的组文之一,标题为《第51名:奖金纷争!美国女子足球队》。

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

It was a hot July night in Lyon, France, and the U.S. women’s national soccer team had just defeated the Netherlands to win their second World Cup in a row. As the team waited on the field to accept their trophy, a chant erupted in the stands. In the din of the stadium, teammates Christen Press and Alex Morgan recall, the champs couldn’t make out the words. It wasn’t until the players rode their victory float through New York City a few days later that they heard the same chant and understood what the crowds were yelling: “Equal pay! Equal pay!” “I actually cried,” Press, who plays striker, tells Fortune. “I was so taken aback.”

The chants weren’t the only thing that had changed since the last time the team earned a ticker-tape reception, after the 2015 cup. Back then, the team had not yet sued their employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation, for allegedly violating equal pay and civil rights laws. (They filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016 and filed suit in a California court this March.) The cultural context had also shifted profoundly. The 2017 women’s marches broke American records for the largest protests, catalyzing a freshly urgent societal conversation around gender equity, women’s rights, and sexual harassment. “This time around, we just understood so much more that we’re a part of this greater movement,” says Megan Rapinoe, the team’s cocaptain and forward. “Coming home the first couple of days, I was like, ‘Oh, this is so much bigger than I even thought.’ ”

It has been 47 years since Title IX became U.S. law, prohibiting gender discrimination in schools and requiring sports programs for girls to be equivalent to those for boys. But women’s professional sports are still generations behind men’s, with fewer teams and generally smaller audiences. Pay equity is rare—and virtually nonexistent in team sports like soccer and basketball. Now the field is experiencing a reckoning, as athletes speak up for gender equality—and the women’s soccer team, whose dominance has given them the world’s ear, are leading the charge (and earning a special spot on our annual list).

The sports uprising is akin to the one the entertainment industry has confronted in the wake of #MeToo, as female actors who came forward about sexual assault began also campaigning for equal pay and better representation in front of and behind the camera. “There’s a moment in women’s sports, there’s momentum around our league, and there’s this movement around women’s empowerment,” says Cathy Engelbert, the former CEO of Deloitte and new commissioner of the WNBA. The convergence underscores why Time’s Up, the Hollywood-based organization created around #MeToo, partnered with the women’s soccer team this summer on a fundraising initiative aimed at helping all women close the wage gap. “We can sort of see ourselves in that,” Rapinoe says of Time’s Up.

The lawsuit against USSF is the first known instance of a professional sports team suing its employer for gender discrimination. U.S. soccer is unusual in that the same organization employs both men’s and women’s teams—which makes it easier, as a legal matter, to demonstrate unequal treatment. The women’s on-field success and popularity, meanwhile, have made their case more viable by giving it an economic underpinning. Since 2015, they argue, they have outperformed the men financially: For example, USSF projected that the women’s team would generate a $5 million profit in fiscal 2017, while the men would lose $1 million. Still, the USSF’s pay structure awards substantially greater compensation to the men. In 2014, the last time the men’s team was in the World Cup, they were eliminated in the round of 16, but thanks to various bonuses, they allegedly received roughly triple what the women got for winning it all in 2015. (USSF has denied that it discriminates, saying in a court filing that because the men and women compete “in vastly different spheres” internationally, “no comparison can be made between their respective performance and compensation.”) “It seems like [the lawsuit] was a step that this team was always destined to make,” says cocaptain Morgan, who plays forward. Adds Press: “The most important thing we could do to change the world and make the world a better place is winning.”

Already, the female soccer players have tangibly influenced other sports—inspiring other women to ask for better pay, even when equal pay is a long shot. This year, the World Surf League began awarding equal prize purses to men and women. In hockey, hundreds of women are currently refusing to play in North American pro leagues, demanding better compensation and playing standards. Kendall Coyne Schofield, who plays forward on the U.S. women’s national ice hockey team, consulted with women’s soccer players before deciding to boycott the 2017 hockey world championships amid a compensation dispute. “We looked at them and said, ‘If they can do it, we can do it,’ ” Coyne Schofield recalls.

At the WNBA, where the league is in the midst of negotiating a new contract with players, Engelbert says she’s committed to improving female players’ compensation and travel arrangements, though she cautions that “the economics of this league need to improve to support the players more.” Ultimately, she thinks elevating women’s sports will have benefits beyond just the game—by expanding opportunities for corporate sponsorship dollars (less than 5% of which goes to women’s sports today) as well as by inspiring women to achieve and lead.

Billie Jean King, the tennis legend whose advocacy helped bring equal pay to her sport decades ago, understands that dynamic. After she defeated male star Bobby Riggs in the famed “Battle of the Sexes” match in 1973, King says, she heard from women who felt compelled to ask their bosses for a raise the next day. “Sports is a platform for change,” she tells Fortune. “We can help this drive toward equality.”

A version of this article appears in the October 2019 issue of Fortune as part of the Most Powerful Women package with the headline “No. 51: Bonus Pick! U.S. Women’s National Team.”

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