Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Starting in 2019, the World Surf League will award equal prize money to men and women. The pay disparities had been quite significant, with some men's prizes double those available to women. "Did the girls surf a different ocean that was easier we don't know about?" asked one observer.
Opposition to sexism in the sport has been building for some time. In a 2010 Masters thesis, Richelle Reed concluded that "even though women have faced near complete exclusion from the sport, they are still courageous and surf and continue to fight male dominance in surfing and sports, in general." But pressure for gender equity has been building rapidly since then, and has been particularly pointed since the founding of the Committee for Equity in Women's Surfing (CEWS) in 2016.
State law factored into the World Surf League's decision to equalize prize money. Earlier this year, the California State Lands Commission, responding to advocacy by CEWS, declined to issue permits for a major surfing competition on the California coast unless men and women competitors were awarded the same prize money.
More background on the history of sexism in surfing, which ranges from sponsorships to board design, is available here.
Congratulations to CEWS for this important victory for women in sports!