Gender Pay Gap Disturbingly High in Competitive Surfing

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Winners of the Ballito Pro Junior competition Rio Waida (left) and Zoey Steyn stand on the podium, holding checks with a difference of R4000 (~$300 USD). Photo: Ballito Pro Facebook page.

Last week after the 2018 Ballito Pro Junior competition at Willard Beach in Ballito, South Africa, two teens found themselves at the center of a heated debate over parity in prize money.

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After posting what appeared to be a celebratory photo on social media of winners Rio Waida (Indonesia) and Zoey Steyn (East London) touting their checks, the competition’s organizers are facing criticism over the pay gap between the two competitors, according to Surfer Magazine.

Steyn surfed on the same ocean as her male counterpart, Waida, yet her check was only half of Waida’s earnings. One HALF! The photograph brought attention directly to the gender inequality ingrained in competitive surfing.

While Billabong sponsors the event, they deny responsibility for the pay gap: “The WSL determines the allocation of prize money and points for each event,” they said in an interview with Surfer Magazine.

Following the controversy, the World Surf League issued the following statement on WSL Gender Equality and Pay Parity.

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