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‘Women Cannot Fight This Fight Alone': Chris Paul and Other Athletes on Equal Pay and Male Allyship

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March 24 marks Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date for how far the average woman has to work into the new year to earn the same pay men earned the previous year.

On average, women working full-time in the U.S. are paid just $0.82 for every dollar paid to men. For women of color, this pay gap is even worse with Black women, Native American women and Latinas earning $0.63, $0.60 and $0.55, respectively, for each dollar paid to white men.

As conversations around the need to close these gaps continue to take place, many men, both inside and outside of corporate America, are stepping up to show allyship in the fight for equal pay. In the sports world, athletes like NBA player Chris Paul and former Pittsburgh Steeler and Tampa Bay Buccaneers' player Will Allen are using their platforms to voice just how important it is for men to stand up for gender equality.

Houston Rockets Guard Chris Paul looks on before an NBA game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers on February 28, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA.
Brian Rothmuller | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images
Houston Rockets Guard Chris Paul looks on before an NBA game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers on February 28, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA.

"Women cannot fight this fight alone," Paul tells CNBC Make It. As a father with a daughter, the Phoenix Suns star says he can't imagine "the limits that are on her and many other talented women because of structural disparities."

When looking at the sports world specifically, Paul says he commends athletes like U.S. women's national soccer team player Megan Rapinoe for the work she and her teammates "are doing to draw attention to the fact that people love women's soccer and watch it, but the advertising and salaries just aren't there."

In 2016 Rapinoe and other USWNT players filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for unequal pay, citing figures that showed the women's team generated nearly $20 million more in revenue the prior year than the U.S. men's team. Yet, despite this additional revenue, they were paid almost four times less.

In addition to unequal pay, USWNT players sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination in 2019 stating inequality in work conditions, travel arrangements and medical treatment compared to their male peers. While their fight for equal pay is still ongoing, Rapinoe and her teammates did reach an agreement with the United States Soccer Federation in December 2020 to grant players equal staffing, travel, hotel accommodations and venue choices at their matches compared to the men.

"It's important that women are not only paid equal, but treated with equal respect," says Allen, while adding that it's imperative for men to "be advocates and fight for equal pay and gender equality" so that his daughter has a future where she is "treated fairly."

In addition to Paul and Allen, several other athletes have used their platforms to voice just how important it is for men to step up and advocate for women.

Last week, players such as Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry and NBA player Kyrie Irving called out the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for its disparity in treatment between men and women college basketball players at its March Madness tournaments.

"It is kind of eye-opening every single day to realize we live in a society where we kind of expect so much from men, our kings, and we go out and show an effort like that in terms of how we show our respect for our queens, going to play on a high level as well," Irving said during a press conference in response to a viral video that showed just how small the women's weight room was in comparison to the men's.

Calling the difference in treatment "unacceptable," the 29-year-old, who helped cover the salaries of WNBA players last year, said, "I am here to follow the steps as a pioneer to continue to be a voice" for change.

Paul, who spent much of his time last season fighting for racial justice and working with NBA commissioner Adam Silver to improve the league's hiring practices of women and minorities, says it's important for everyone to ask themselves "if things are equal and if everyone has a seat at the table."

"If we're providing more opportunity for women and are listening to different voices, we are going to have a more inclusive environment that leads to a more level playing field."

Check out: Use this calculator to see exactly how much your third coronavirus stimulus check could be worth

Don't miss: 

Steph Curry, A’ja Wilson and other athletes call out NCAA for unequal treatment of men and women basketball players

How USWNT star Alex Morgan and other women Olympians are fighting for equal coverage in sports media

Natasha Cloud, Breanna Stewart and other WNBA stars on continuing the fight for social justice and equality

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