The Australian government’s gender equality body and women’s rights advocates are incensed at the remuneration the AFL is offering its female players, compared to that of their male counterparts.
In February 2017, an inaugural eight-week, eight-team AFL women’s league will begin, and most players will earn considerably less money than male players do for the same amount of work.
The AFL claims it is on a “journey” to build a strong women’s league into the future, however the Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) director Libby Lyons slammed the AFL’s offer.
“No matter the workplace, women should be paid the same as men for doing the same job,” Ms Lyons told The New Daily. “Playing professional football is no different.
“By not paying male and female players equally, employers send a message to young girls and women that they are not as highly valued as men even when they are the top of their field.”
While the male AFL season lasts 23 rounds, plus finals, the female AFL competition will be eight weeks long. Out of a 25-woman squad, two “marquee players” will be paid $25,000, according to reports.
Victorian clubs can pay one other “priority pre-signing” player $10,000, while all other women will earn $5000 for the eight weeks. With those caveats in mind, this is how the men’s pay compares to the women’s pay.
Equal pay ‘a basic human right’
University of Technology Sydney women’s sport and gender equality expert Dr Johanna Adriaanse said it was wonderful the AFL had initiated a women’s competition.
But she said the AFL’s gender pay gap was “unfair” and “unreasonable”.
“Women should be paid equal to men for the work they do. That is a basic human right,” Dr Adriaanse told The New Daily.
“If men receive health insurance as part of their contract the women should get the same, there is no doubt about that.
“Female AFL salaries should be much more generous than it is. It is quite unfair and unreasonable.”
She questioned why the women’s AFL players were restricted to a part-time basis, when men were supported in a full-time capacity.
‘We’re on a journey’: AFL
The AFL refused to answer The New Daily‘s questions about pay discrepancy and lack of health or income protection insurance for women.
Instead, an AFL spokesperson directed The New Daily to responses CEO Gillon McLachlan gave about women’s football during a Twitter fan Q&A.
“We’re on a journey. It’s not the same as the men straight off,” McLachlan said. “We are starting by turning amateur women into professional women.
“But I tell you what we are going to be a long way down the path to being very much like the men in five years’ time.”
McLachlan then introduced AFL women’s player Aasta O’Connor who said: “We are on a journey here, this is the beginning and it’s exciting.
“I do understand the public’s point of view though [on the pay gap], when we compare it to the men. But I think the whole point is we are not men. We are women and we are creating our own space and that’s an amazing opportunity.”