USWNT's Christen Press addresses need for equal pay: 'It affects the sport and how it's respected'
In the United States in 2019, the average woman makes roughly 80 cents to the dollar of her male counterpart.
Such a discrepancy is notable in any career path, but it's often most egregious in sports, where thousands or even millions of dollars are in play for athletes at the top of their game.
That's not just referencing the contracts bordering on half a billion dollars that were recently handed out in Major League Baseball. Even soccer, one of the world's most popular sports, sees a massive disparity between pay for male and female athletes. In fact, men who make the U.S. World Cup roster currently receive a bonus that is $31,250 more than what is given to the women who do the same.
Christen Press, a forward on the United States women's national soccer team, opened up about how the pay disparity between men and women negatively affects sports -- and women everywhere.
"As a team, what we're fighting for is more investment in women's games," she told AOL.com. "The financial discrepancy creates huge chasms in the sport. It affects the sport and how it's respected, how it's played, how it's managed and the opportunities within the sport."
On Tuesday, which marks Equal Pay Day in the U.S., LUNA Bar announced it would donate $31,250 to each woman who makes the World Cup roster, making up the difference between the women’s and men’s bonuses.
The observation of Equal Pay Day is held on the date that women must work to in a given year to equal what men earned in the year prior.
"When LUNA Bar decided to make that donation to us, it was a message to us that they believe in our work," Press said. "I think about Equal Pay Day and this partnership with Luna Bar and I'm so excited, because I think it's such a positive message."
"It’s ironic that one of the most popular sports in the world is still experiencing pay inequalities between women and men," Kit Crawford, CEO of LUNA Bar's parent company, Clif Bar, said. "We are big fans of the U.S. Women’s National Team and were inspired to take action and make a difference that matters."
Press stresses that "historical and systematic discrepancies" like gender-based wage inequality take time to eradicate, and that's what LUNA Bar and the USWNT players are working towards.
"As a professional athlete, there are no men that are in this situation of thinking about their second jobs or being asked what their second job is," she said.
"The other side of the financial investment is getting girls access to excellent resources in order to push the game to the highest level."