According to a report by Forbes, there is evidence that the Women’s NBA is significantly underpaying players.
This season, Sylvia Fowles led the WNBA in field goal percentage and finished second in rebounding per game. Fowles also tied for second in blocks per game and ranked fifth in points per game. Her team – the Minnesota Lynx – also finished with the best record in the WNBA. For all this, Fowles was named league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Fowles was reportedly paid $109,000 [£80, 324] for all she did in 2017. Meanwhile, Leandro Barbosa is scheduled to earn $500,000 [£368, 459] from the Phoenix Suns in 2017-18. This past July, though, Barbosa was waived by the team. So, Barbosa will be paid nearly five times what the WNBA MVP earned, and Barbosa won’t even play for the Suns.
This comparison is what was given to suggest there is a substantial gender wage gap in professional basketball. However, critics do admit that you cannot measure this gap simply by comparing wages in the NBA and WNBA.
According to a Forbes analysis, the NBA’s teams generated $5.9 billion [£4.3bn] in revenue in 2015-16. Similar analysis doesn’t seem to exist for the WNBA, but it is known that its revenue is far lower. Therefore, it is not surprising the WNBA pays lower salaries.
However, the WNBA players are not being treated the same as their counterparts in the NBA. The NBA pays its players about 50% of league revenue. With the WNBA, it appears the league’s players are receiving less than 25% of the revenue. In addition, the percentage appears to be shrinking over time. In other words, a significant gender wage gap exists in professional basketball and it is growing.