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Megan Rapinoe Testifies at House Hearing on Equal Pay Day, Urges an End to Gender Pay Gap

Megan Rapinoe is doubling down on her commitment to the fight for gender equality. Today, the soccer star appeared during a hybrid hearing held by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, the chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform — in honor of Equal Pay Day — to examine the economic harm caused by longstanding gender inequalities.

“We are told in this country that if you just work hard and continue to achieve — you’ll be rewarded fairly. It’s the promise of the American dream. But that promise isn’t for everyone,” Rapinoe said in her opening remarks.

In 2019, Rapinoe and 27 members of United States Women’s National Team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. Last May, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled the women could not prove discrimination over pay and partially granted the USSF’s motion for a partial summary judgment. In December, players settled for a portion of the lawsuit relating to claims of unequal working conditions, which included alleged differences between the men’s and women’s travel accommodations. However, the USWNT is still appealing the wage discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act.

“Instead of lobbying with the women’s team and our efforts for equal pay and equality in general, the U.S. soccer federation has continually lobbied against our efforts, and the efforts of millions of people marginalized by gender in the United States,” Rapinoe said during today’s hearing.

The USWNT are paid significantly less than their male counterparts — some as little as 38 cents to the dollar — despite the fact that the women’s team continuously outperforms the men’s team, according to Maloney. USWNT accolades include four World Cup championships, four Olympic gold medals, record-breaking viewing numbers and jersey sales. For context, the men’s team has never won an Olympic gold medal or advanced past the World Cup quarterfinals since finishing in third place in 1930.

Similar purported inequalities have also been documented heavily in the WNBA, and most recently at the NCAA Basketball Tournament last week. After images and video surfaced on social media depicting stark differences between the women’s and men’s weight room facilities — the women’s room comprised of one weight rack while the men had an entire gym, per the videos — the NCAA came under fire from the public, as well as from companies, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, who offered to supply equipment.

(The women have since received a weight room and the NCAA issued an apology.)

“The fact that these disparities existed in the first place is insulting and inexcusable,” Rep. Maloney said during today’s hearing in Washington.

Pay disparity isn’t just a problem in women’s sports. The gender wage gap hits all industries and has been a systemic issue for decades. And since the coronavirus hit, those challenges have only been exacerbated with women experiencing a net loss of more than 5.4 million jobs — 55% of the United States’ overall net job loss since health crisis began, according to the Brookings Institution.

“If [this] can happen to us, to me, with the brightest lights shining on us — it can, and does, happen to every person who is marginalized by gender,” said Rapinoe. “We can change that today. Right now. We just have to want to.”

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