Fewer than three days before teams from around the world hit the ice in Michigan for the 2017 Women’s World Hockey Championships, the US team successfully won concessions from USA Hockey, closing the gender pay gap between female players and their male counterparts while also collecting a victory for both labor organizing and women’s empowerment.
The players went on strike on March 15 for better wages and greater investment from the US ice hockey governing body – USA Hockey – in cultivating interest in the sport among girls. This bold move occurred just two weeks before the international championships. In a sign of solidarity, the men’s team purportedly threatened to go on strike as well if officials attempted to bring in replacements for the women’s team.
The incredible unity that all 23 players showed paid off. USA Hockey has offered to raise wages to $70,000 a year (with bonuses for special tournaments), put forth a backpay pool of nearly $1 million, granted equal per day meal money as the men’s team, and confirmed a new committee designed exclusively to foster youth engagement among girls.
These are big wins. Before this week’s concessions, for example, players on the women’s team received a mere $24 daily meal allowance compared to the $50 doled out to individual players on the men’s team.
When players tried to achieve greater equality in the past, they were meat with scorn and derision by both USA Hockey and their coaching staff, as former hockey all-star Cammi Granato recounts in a moving espnW essay explaining why this week’s win is so important for women’s equality in sports.
Considering everything else happening in the United States right now, good news like this is more than welcome.