Do women tennis players deserve equal pay?
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:
- That men play 5 sets whilst women play 3 and, therefore, that men deserve more money.
- 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.
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.