The shocking celebrity sports gender pay gap

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.


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.

The UK's 10 best-paid jobs
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The UK's 10 best-paid jobs

Flying high literally as well as metaphorically, pilots top the salary scale this year. There are various routes into the job, from university courses to airlines' own training schemes; private training will set you back as much as £50,000 to £60,000.

"I most enjoy the variety of the job, working as a team, to a schedule, with the responsibility of safely transporting hundreds of people to their destination. I would advise aspiring pilots to thoroughly research training routes, understand the serious financial outlay required with no guarantee of a job after training and to consider other routes such as flight instruction."

Not all CEOs are making millions - but they're doing pretty nicely on average. There's no clear route into the job; an MBA can help, but many bosses have worked their way up from the bottom and many simply started their own firm.

"There is an old saying, it's very lonely at the top, which is usually the case for a CEO. You're the leader and you're responsible for everything, meaning you take the credit for the successes and feel the most pain for the companies' failures."

Most air traffic controllers train through National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which has programmes for college leavers who have studied at BTEC ND/HNC/HND level, university students on a sandwich year and graduates. NATS says the most important attribute for acceptance on a course is natural aptitude.

"Much of the time, the job is routine and capable of being done by many people. What you are paid for, however, is your ability to make the right choices and decisions under extreme pressure."

The high pay reflects both the heavy workload and the length of training required - a five-year degree course in medicine, a two-year foundation programme of general training and then another three years specialist training.

"You will get paid well and (despite recent changes!) you will get a very good pension. You will, however, work hard for your money with less recognition than previous years."

This is a job where most people work their way up, although qualifications like the Chartered Institute of Marketing's Professional Diploma in Marketing or the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing's Diploma in Direct and Interactive Marketing can help. You'll probably need three or four years' experience before you can move into management.

"It's great working in such a varied job - there's something new every day. I enjoy the travel, too. But it's fast-paced, very hard work, and there's a lot of technical data analysis work involved."

It's not surprising that IT and telecoms directors earn good money. The job requires both business and technical skills, and the stakes are high: smoothly-running IT systems are crucial for most businesses and the cost of getting things wrong is high.

"It's a high-pressure job, and the hours can be unbelievably long, but it's extremely rewarding when a project goes well. The biggest problems are staying on top of changes in technology and being clear about what's actually achievable within a budget."

Financial managers and directors need to be qualified accountants and, particularly in larger organisations, have strong general business skills. And the job carries huge levels of responsibility, from keeping the company in good health financially to making sure it complies with the law.

"What I enjoy about the job is the way it's central to the business, the way I'm involved in creating long-term business plans. Compliance [with regulations] can be a bit of a pain; it takes a lot of hard work."

Until recently, the only way to become a senior officer was to work your way up through the ranks. Each police force sets its own recruitment process and selection policy, though there's a basic national framework for evaluating competency. This year, though, the College of Policing has started appointing superintendents from outside the force - so you might be in with a chance.

"I love the opportunity to take on a vast array of roles which would never be possible in a civilian organisation and to progress through a clearly defined promotion structure, should I prove to be good enough. The training I have received has been quite brilliant, enhancing my life skills as well as my ability to do my job well."

If your vision of a bank manager is of a middle-aged man in a panelled office dictating stern letters to his secretary, think again. It's now about managing a team and, especially, attracting new customers and monitoring branch performance. There are two ways to get to be one: either through a bank's graduate scheme, or by starting off in a customer service role and working your way up.

"For me, what's great about working in a branch is that anyone could be a branch manager, you don't have to have a certain skill set. Having a background in customer service, whether it's in a bank or with another retailer, certainly helps. Some other skills that would help are organisation, patience, tolerance and empathy. After 27 years I can genuinely say that that not only do I love coming to work every day, I have also made lifelong friends here. For me, it's not just a nine-to-five job."

Once you're qualified as a teacher, it's a question of working your way up by gaining extra responsibilities - by becoming a head of department, a head of year, or a specialist in something like special educational needs. At head teacher level, the job is far less about teaching itself, and far more about managing staff and budgets and creating a productive, disciplined learning environment.

"It's a common complaint that teaching is all about performance targets these days, and there is some truth in that. It's a question of balance, though. The most rewarding part of the job is knowing that you're bringing the best out of every single child by creating an environment where they feel safe and motivated to learn."


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