Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Do women tennis players deserve equal pay?

Over the last few years, few prize-money announcements at Grand Slam tennis tournaments have gone by without a number of tennis "feminists" raising a hue and cry about women players being paid less than men. The occasion this time: Wimbledon's announcement that it would continue to preserve its asymmetric pay structure.

Of course, the difference in pay is so marginal as to be little more than symbolic, which probably (and rightfully) causes further aggravation to the feminist movement. After all, how can the Wimbledon officials possibly justify paying the ladies' champion exactly 4.5% less than the men's?

The traditional argument against equal pay for women usually involves an allusion to two things:
  1. That men play 5 sets whilst women play 3 and, therefore, that men deserve more money.
  2. That the "depth" of the men's game is much higher than the women's and, therefore, that men work harder than women to win and deserve more money in consequence.
Neither of these two arguments makes any sense at all. (The only argument worse than (1) was when Martina Navratilova offered to play 5 sets in exchange for equal pay!) The reason: players are paid for the entertainment they deliver (and the secondary market therefrom, e.g., television spots), not for their labor! These aren't workers on minimum wage, they are performers. Making a pay-for-play argument is as silly as arguing that Roger Federer should make less money than Lleyton Hewitt because Federer keeps winning in straight sets while Hewitt always struggles through five-setters.

So, does this mean women do deserve equal pay after all? A tricky question, because it is hard to estimate the fraction of the tournament's market value that derives solely from the men and solely from the women. Instead, I used a different metric: Compare the prize money of all tournaments on the WTA tour excluding the Grand Slams, to the tournaments on the ATP tour. The advantage of making this comparison is that it's easy to get "pure" data on the value of women's (respectively, men's) tennis alone, since a WTA (resp., ATP) tour tournament needs to market itself, sell tickets and find sponsors without the aid of men's (resp., women's) tennis.

A quick analysis of the 2006 WTA and ATP tour, culled from their web sites, provides the following statistics:

WTA tour: 61 Tournaments; Avg. Prize Money = $650,000; Total Prize Money= $39.6 million

ATP tour: 64 Tournaments; Avg. Prize Money = $929,000; Total Prize Money= $59.5 million

The winner, in a TKO by a factor of almost 1.5: The ATP tour.

Conclusion: Until the WTA tour can get its act together and match the ATP tour's prize money, the argument for equal pay at Grand Slams is dubious.

28 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To simply dismiss the argument that women should not get the same prize money because they play only three sets whilst men play five is illogical. Because of shorter matches the play time of women's tournaments is shorter reducing the amount of revenue that the organisers can obtain from television, advertising, concessions and crowd revenues. This is not about equal rights or entertainers. At present women can get far more money for less work pro rata by claiming equality. Equality is about equal pay for equal work or value and it is in fact unfair and a distortion of the argument to claim that whilst still insisting on doing less. As a lawyer I would suggest that the argument that they should by right get the same money for doing only three fifths of the work would not stand up under any equality legislation or principles.

7/04/2006 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You took the words right out of my mouth, sir. If they want equal pay - PLAY EQUAL PLAY. Let's see them go best of 5 sets.

7/08/2006 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right out of my mouth too.... they should def. play the best of 5 sets.

7/12/2006 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is andy gibson hall and i like men

1/30/2007 4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women need to start playing best of 5 in the majors, right now there is no difference in the majors for women and their regular events. I think now the men should only have to play the best of 3. Would you like it at your job if someone doing exactly what your doing only works 30 hours a week and you work 40 hours and they get the same pay? The women are now getting over and it's totally unfair and someone needs to stand up and say something about it. It's ridiculous.

2/22/2007 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all of this has NOTHING to do with number of sets played.

using time-on-court is RIDICULOUS.

the fact of the matter is that pro sports are entertainment. and in EVERY aspect of ALL entertainment, the form of entertainment that pays best is the one (drum roll...) that is most entertaining!

there's no polite way around this, but if you are a true progressive, you have to acknowledge that sports may be the ONE UNIQUE place where women just should not be paid as much.

women's sports, for the most part, (but not universally, mind you) are NOT AS ENTERTAINING AS MEN'S.

Don't believe me? Go to an intersection with four sports on each corner. on one is men's billiards. on another is women's basketball. on yet another is men's football. and on the last is men's boxing.

where will you be?
thought so.

(i took that example from max kellerman and adapted it.)

2/22/2007 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do anything but best-of-5 for women. Remember those year-ending championship finals till some years back? What crap tennis they produced when it got to 5th set!!

2/27/2007 4:22 AM  
Anonymous manu said...

excellent idea, Prasanna! you probably don't know me, i was 1 year your junior at IITM. anyway, i have always felt that women don't attact as many audience as men (seems obvious to me, most people who watch are men, game is faster and as you mention more depth of talent) and hence don't deserve 'equal pay'. this equality of sex thing can be taken too far sometimes and here is an example. equal opportunity should not be confused with equal compensation especially when men and women compete separately. you are on your own then!

4/12/2007 10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not female tennis players who've taken the decision to play 3 sets, which has been decided based on women's perceived ability to play the game. By whom I don't know, but I can take a guess that it wasn't a woman! The prize money is not based on court time or depth of game; it is based upon who wins the competition. On this basis I see no reason why men and women should have differing prize money based on their gender. It is winner of the match that wins the prize, and this should not be based on whether the player is male or female. As for the depth and quality of the matches - this is down to personal perception. I would argue that in true tennis terms, women's matches are often more satisfying and are not merely a series of points won on acing your opponent, but are games based on rallies and tactical play.

7/05/2007 4:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So a few noteable women have started bleating how its "unfair" that men get paid more than women, and the male winner's purse at wimbledon is "£30,000 m ore" than the women's purse. Sadly, Tony Blair has now backed this.

Before everyone starts losing their heads over this feminist machine, do we care to even analyse the figures? Lets do that:

1) +Total Prize money for men = £5,197,440
+Total Prize money for women = £4,429 440
2) Male winner's takings = £655,000
Female winner's takings = £625,000

From the above figures, without any other factors, yes it looks like women are getting a bum deal, however, if we assume same number of entrants (128 men and 128 women as with this year's) and no tie-breaks are played:

3) Maximum number of sets played by men = 5
Maximum number of sets played by women = 3
Minimum number of sets played by men = 3
Minimum number of sets played by women = 2

4) Total prize money per set (male) = £1,039,488
Total prize money per set (female) = £1,476,480

Is it me, or did anyone just notice the ladies purse perset get dramatically larger (by almost £450,000) than the men's? Lets carry on.

5)Male winner's taking's per set (of 5) = £131,000
Female winner's takings per set(of 3) = £208,000

Male winner's takings per set (of 3) = £218,333
Female winner's takings per set(of 2) = £312,500

So we can clearly see, by playing fewer sets, women are in fact currently getting paid MORE to do less work. As this is these players main income, ie what they do for a lviing, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't a lot of women today currently protesting about unequal pay to male counterparts for doing the same amount of work int he same job? Lets hear what Venus Williams has to say:

(Start of Quote)
"Women and men should be treated equally. This is an amazing sport and there is as much interest in women's tennis as there is in men's. Just because we can't play five sets because of our genes, what can we do?" (End of Quote)

So its settled then, I guess she means IF by some physical advantage (that no one has control over) men are subject to do more work, then pay is irrelevant and women should be REWARDED for their GENETIC INABILITY to do the same work, or better yet, men should be PENALISED for their UNCONTROLLABLE ABILITY to do more work, amount of time playing should not matter, and number of sets played should not matter.

I'm sorry, but this sounds like the feminist machine wanting to turn a situation COMPLETELY in its favour whilst penalising men, and at the same time, protesting in the name of "equality". Note how the "equality" angle only refers to pay, not the amount of work done to earn that pay. Seems very convenient isn't it.

What do you all think?

7/05/2007 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women should not make as much money as men do. Men have to play more than women so it wouldn't make sense to give them equal money.

7/24/2007 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We live in a culture today with an overwhelming sense of entitlement. We must remember that Equal opportunity does NOT mean equal reward. Reward should be based on your abilities and quality of work no matter who you are. We are under the modern misconception that we should throw that out the window and the burden should be placed on the succesful few and reaped by all. The top women could never compete 1 on 1, with the top men of the sport of tennis. I have been watching this year's U.S. Open and the drama and entertainment of the men's game FAR outweighs the pathetic 6-0, 6-1, usual women's score. Even the 1 and 2nd men's round are filled with drama and compeition, because the men's game is SO much deeper! In fact I can't wait for the women to get off the court so I can watch real tennis being played. I believe the women's game is really more like the "minor" leagues of tennis simply because their play is inferior, and lets face it in ALL sports women are inferior, men have a magical hormone named testosterone that simply makes us bigger faster and stronger, what more do I need to say. The fact that many of the majors have given in and now pay the women the same is a complete "giving in" to the nonsense of our entitlement culture. For all of the women's groups our there just anwer this, could of the women on tour ever and mean ever take even a set from a Roger Federer? I didn't think so. Lets wake up and grow up to realize the realm of sports is and always will be dominated by men, and it's OK for men and women to be different, WE DON'T ALL HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING!! We're made differently for a reason, however I suppose if women's groups ever admitted this obvious and universal truth they would be out of a job now wouldn't they.

9/05/2007 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why we're arguing about gender equality. If you truly want to reward contestants equally based on their skill not gender, then you must eliminate all gender bias. There are no women players and male players. They are all contestants and my money is on the big hairy ones!

9/10/2007 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

..... who ? venus or serena ? =) !!!

10/11/2007 4:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

't Sharapova earn more than Federer last year - when endorsements are counted??

11/20/2007 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Amelie said...

lets face it... women tennis players are basically genetically equal to men nowadows, with Meuresmo hugely resembling a male tennis player, or even a male horse. In that sense women should play best of 5 sets as they are physically very similar to men. Agree??? X

12/07/2007 2:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know some good tennis websites for women?

12/19/2007 2:00 PM  
Blogger Raman said...

no they dont deserve it. They play less, and are on par with college mens players.

6/29/2008 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Equal pay in women’s tennis is setting a poor example to our children. It demonstrates that girls can get something for nothing. There is already too much “marry a rich man” syndrome and it needs to stop. I don’t want my daughter growing up in this type of environment.

(Start of Quote)
"Women and men should be treated equally. This is an amazing sport and there is as much interest in women's tennis as there is in men's. Just because we can't play five sets because of our genes, what can we do?" (End of Quote)

Ironically, my daughter came to me today and said that girls are smarter then boys. I asked her how she came to this conclusion. She told me it was a fact and she was right. Statistics for 2007’s results of the UK’s GCSE’s exam results (GCSE’s are a set of UK college exams) indicate that female grades averaged 3.7% higher then males grades in identical subjects. One of the perceived reasons is that a female’s brain develops and matures faster than a males and so females are able to assess information’s more efficiently during their early teens. Hence, they do better at exams. I’m not doubting this and in fact I will agree that males are less intelligence then females - but it is no fault of the males. It’s genetic. As this is the case I think that women and men should be treated equally when it comes to GCSE’s. This is an amazing exam and there is as much effort by men to score well in these exams as there is by women. Just because men are not as intelligent because of our genes, what can we do?" (End of me updated Quote).

So, I vote that males GCSE grads should be increased by an average 3.7% across the entire GCSE system to account for this genetic inability.

7/01/2008 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we are missing an important point here. Do the men really what to play 2 of 3 sets? I think if you ask them, most would say no. They would feel that a match is not only shot making, but also strategy and endurance, which can only we determined with 3 of 5 sets. I have heard many on the women's tour speak of equal pay because they claim "their" matches are more entertaining and have a bigger following than the men's game. If that is their agrument, then should'nt they want to be paid "more" than the men since they are "more" entertaining. From this man's perspective, the men's game is at a far higher level of competition than the women's, but from this man's perspective, I sure like watching the woman's game and those "short skirts"....

7/23/2008 6:59 PM  
Blogger nteract said...

The average match for a woman is 2 sets.. The men is over 4 sets
The average time plays is just over 1 hour for women and almost 4 hours for men.. Viewership
In the second round, a few days ago, Novak Djokovic beat Radek Stepanek in a grueling, five-set thriller that took 4 hours, 44 minutes
No matter how good a women's match is, it never, ever goes long enough for us to observe their endurance, to witness their desire tested over the course of a long battle.
If a tennis match is equal and hard-fought, fans don't care whether the players are men or women.
But the issue at hand here is equal pay for equal WORK. The work concept incorporates energy output and stamina, and until the women play three-out-of-five sets, as do the men, instead of two-out-of-three, I simply don't see them as logging equal work on the court.
Men play longer matches, over the best of five sets instead of three

* Men's tennis arouses more interest than women's in terms both of sponsorship and overall attendance

* Per game played, men actually earn less than women
Consider the Men's Wimbledon's final from last July, a glorious 5-setter between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. If that had been a best-of-3 match, Nadal would have cruised to a quick 2-0 victory, and the final, rather than being a battle-for-the-ages, would have merely been lopsided evidence of Nadal's new dominance. However, because the men played best-of-5 sets, Federer was able to show his resilience and demonstrate to the world he can still play inspired tennis. We tennis fans were rewarded with a gargantuan match, with stirring play across both sides of the net, the winner in doubt for well more than three hours.

Contrast that with the all-Williams Women's Final. The final did not lack for excellent tennis play. Unlike previous matches between these sisters, both of them brought their A-game to this final, and the match was a joy to watch. But after a mere two sets, barely half way through my breakfast at Wimbledon omelet, the match was over. Great tennis, no doubt. But unfulfilling.

If only these women had played a best-of-5 match like the men. Would Serena have made a comeback to win the third and fourth sets? Would Venus have then regained momentum to win the fifth set? Or would Serena have continued in her remarkable comeback?

We will never know.

8/31/2008 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the test you used, makes much more sense to me than the common 2. Although, arguement #1 still makes sense to me. Men play atleast 3 sets, making thier games atleast as long as the long women's matches. The longer the game, the more enterntainment they provide. Also, your reason of Hewitt being payed more as compared to Federer does not make sense, since in sports Winners win the money. But, when you compare men and women, you can't say theres a winner because they don't compete directly against each other. While in Fed and Hewitts case, they do.

1/29/2009 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. I am 12 years old and I am doing an essay in my grammar school for the title 'Is today's World A man's world?' and wanted to include some info on this topic which I think is very unfair. Your blog helped me very mucha nd I wanted to thank you very much for your help!

11/22/2009 11:55 AM  
Blogger mdehsar said...

It's not even about equal play = equal pay. Men bring in much more revenue for the sport than do women. The fact of the matter is people enjoy watching men's tennis more than women's tennis. You can think of it this way, women in the adult industry make way more than men.

1/24/2010 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most definitely women do not deserve equal pay. Apart from the 3sets verses 5 sets argument, tournaments are organised so womens matches are interspersed with mens so that women's tennis spectator numbers are greater than what they would be if their tournament was held completed outside the time of the mens event. Whilst no doubt some spectators come to watch womens matches and listen to their grunts, many others are captive because they can only get seats on a particular court that cover both men and womens matches. This gives an impression that womens tennis has a greater following than what the truth is. Most womens sports played completely separately from the mens event have a poor following. So with respect to tennis the way around that is to ride on the back of the mens event.

3/02/2010 7:13 AM  
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6/04/2010 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do away with the separate men's and women's draw and throw everyone into one large "Winner Take All" draw and lets see how long the women stay on the tour. I'm all for equal pay for equal play and love to see the women play but there is nothing equal for paying women the same as men when it comes to tennis as it is done today. The women must either accept that they desire less money than the men players or get out of tennis.

6/20/2011 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Fred Phoesh said...

OF COURSE THEY DO NOT!!!
There is NO justification for equal pay. If there was, wheelchair users, juniors, senior players SHOULD also get equal pay for the same reasons.
They do not collect nearly as much advertising revenue, TV viewers, interest of any kind... they do not work nearly as hard, NO NO NO.

5/28/2012 4:14 AM  

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