A YOUNG GIRL sits on her father’s shoulders at a women’s soccer game in California, where fierce women play on the field, wise women own the professional soccer club, and women on the U.S. national team just won the right to be paid equally. The father locks eyes with Abby Wambach, a veteran in the fight for equal pay and a winner of two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup title. The father points up to his daughter and shouts to Abby: “This is the only world she’ll ever know.”
It’s commonplace for institutions to fail to honor a woman’s worth—from rulings in domestic violence cases to recent decisions from the highest courts that restrict reproductive options. But the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is not common. And they are not used to losing. The team, which has won four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals, is considered the world’s best women’s soccer team, and yet the players’ efforts to be compensated fairly have been an uphill battle for decades. For instance, under the most recent collective bargaining agreements, a player on the women’s team, according to The Washington Post, would earn about 89 percent of the compensation U.S. men received for a series of exhibition games. That disparity was true in 2018 and 2019, when the U.S. women won the World Cup and the U.S. men failed to qualify for the tourney.