Overcoming underearning. I used to work for a wonderful resilient woman, Barbara Stanny. She’s an author who educates women about financial independence. This is not an ad; she crossed my mind today while thinking about women in soccer being underearners. I do recommend her books and website though - she’s legit, knowledgeable, kind, funny, and inspiring. Her story is a great lesson in bravery and self-awareness. Check her out and get educated on your finances.
It’s understood that women at all levels of soccer/football, both on and off the pitch, are not paid equally with their male equivalents. The reasons fall at many levels - on society's views around gender and money, on international governing body FIFA’s slow-to-change system and hierarchy, Federation bargaining agreements, Association player contracts or lack of, and corporate gender bias and inequality. I could go on, but I think if you’re reading this you’re probably pretty savvy on wage inequality for women. So as champions and leaders continue their battle to change history and get women paid equally, what can be done during the slow transition? One step is to become hyper-aware of your finances and earning potential. Awareness and education will get you much further in the game than holding on to a victim mentality and just wishing things were different. Keep fighting for change through advocacy, speaking up, taking leadership roles, and demanding fair pay, but also focus on the money you are earning and the potential for the future. Find resources to educate yourself and transform your relationship with money. If you’re one of the few women in the world to make a living off of playing professional soccer - I say, ‘bravo’. But, most women players, coaches, referees, and professionals have to find supplemental ways to bring in income to meet expenses, create savings, and enjoy life. This is where you must reflect on your skills and realize the value in what you do. I have learned about female players having to work several jobs or even a full-time job in addition to their playing or coaching career. Consider your talents, your knowledge, your time, and your resources. I used to be guilty of not charging a fee when asked by businesses to help with their social media or marketing. Or when I was younger, I’d work extra hours but not ask to get paid. This is common in the nonprofit world as well, the culture of volunteering even though you’re staff. I see a lot of corporate job postings for unpaid interns. These ways of working are unacceptable; people need to be paid for their work and time. It is so common and accepted to be asked to give away your time for the promise of recognition, exposure, and resume building. Time is money - cliche but true. Even letting phone calls, emails, and texts barge into your time is a way of losing money. Mastering the skill of saying no is an important part of taking control of your time and value. As is asking for what you need and for your worth. There’s a statistic which states, 57% of men negotiate their salary with a company, yet only 7% of women do. It seems the men don't mind asking.
Underearning happens at all income brackets and social backgrounds. I’m not saying everyone needs to make six or seven figure salaries. I’m saying each individual needs to make a holistic plan for their own circumstances and desires and be paid their worth. Money is a touchy sensitive subject for many, with most people having formed their relationship and values around it from childhood. Watching mom and dad’s roles with money form a lot of personal ideals around it. People don’t usually like to discuss the subject. It's uncomfortable and awkward. Companies use this discomfort to perpetuate an opaque unspoken rule and culture of taboo around discussing salary at the workplace. This is how unequal pay is able to continue - silence and secrecy. Speak up and take control.
Here are five things to consider to climb out of an underearning pattern:
Make a career plan - know where you want to go and plan it out, including what salary you want to make.
Ask for raises, charge for your time, and speak up about your pay. Don’t give away your time for free.
Make a plan for retirement. Don’t assume a company, a partner, or a parent will take care of this for you.
Educate yourself on personal finance. Get a mentor or pay a coach.
Take control of your relationship with money. Determine whatever financial baseline you want for a fulfilling life and work your plan to reach those goals.
* If you’re playing soccer professionally, get a contract and get someone you trust to help you with it. See if there’s a players’ union. Keep a copy of the contract. Seek help if the contract is violated (this is the ‘catch’ and sometimes impossible task in women’s soccer). Another part of the challenge is when and how to speak up, for fear of retribution. I don’t want players to be fired or lose the little money they make, but it’s also a huge problem that needs reform. The best I can advise is to seek advice from family, friends, and those who’ve gone before you.