[3/11/19] – U.S. Women’s Soccer v. U.S. Soccer Federation

Since 1991, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNST) has won three World Cup Titles. They also have the best overall record of any team to have competed in the tournament since its inception. Despite their successes, these women earn only one third of the pay their male counterparts earn for playing the same game. In 2016, the USWNST sued the U.S. Soccer Federation, seeking equal pay for awards achieved. For their success in the World Cup, these women earned as much for winning the entire tournament as the men’s team did for losing in the first round. This case is being revisited. On March 8, 2019, the USWNST announced plans to again sue U.S. Soccer in order to obtain equal pay—nearly three months before the start of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for U.S. Women’s Soccer v. U.S. Soccer Federation

Learning Objectives

LO1: Explain how the gender wage gap can be viewed from multiple sociological perspectives.

LO2: Discuss how the history of gender discrimination perpetuates the gender wage gap.

LO3: Explain the relationship between larger social structures, such as the media and government, and the gender wage gap.




  1. From a functionalist perspective, explain why female soccer players earn less than their male counterparts. What is the relationship between pay and viewers for games, sponsorships for the team, and other capitalist investment? What can be done to increase pay for female soccer players in the United States?
  2. From a feminist perspective, how does the gender wage gap reflect historical discrimination against women in the United States? How is the current experience of women in all occupations influenced by prevailing wisdom about traditional gender norms and roles? What needs to happen for this ideology to cease? Why has it not happened yet?
  3. Why is it necessary for the USWNST to sue U.S. Soccer in order to bring about interest and the possibility of an increase in their pay? What is the role of the men’s team in the discussion? Why might they be silent in this case?
  4. What are some examples of stereotypes that exist of women in American society that serve to limit access to equal pay? Who has the power to create and apply these labels? How do these negative labels work to influence gender discrimination in other aspects of social life? What role will the controlling of the narrative in the media play in the success or failure of their case?
  5. What is the significance of the USWNST filing their lawsuit on International Women’s Day? Why might the players have selected this day to continue their fight for their right to equal pay? How might this work in their favor, and how might this hurt their chances for victory in the courtroom?

Current Events Quiz

Which of the following statements regarding the gender wage gap in the United States is false?
a. The persistence of the gender wage gap has nothing to do with the history of gender discrimination in the United States.
b. Black women and Latinas earn the most of all women compared to their male counterparts.
c. Wage discrimination by gender only occurs in sports.
d. All of the above are false.

The fact that a large organization is behind the gender wage gap for the USWNST suggests that _______ plays a role in the perpetuation of pay disparities for men and women’s soccer in the United States.
a. institutionalized discrimination
b. the Pink Tax
c. lower T.V. ratings
d. stereotype threat

A(n) _______ theorist would likely suggest the existence of traditional gender norms and roles serve to facilitate opportunities for men to control women’s access to scarce financial resources in an effort to keep them in a subordinate status in society.
a. Structural-Functional
b. Symbolic-Interaction
c. Conflict
d. Exchange


Photo credit: Jamie Smed


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