Gender Pay Gap in Professional Basketball

Since the NBA and WNBA were founded, there has been a huge disparity in salaries between the two leagues. One of the reasons could be that women in America make 78 cents for every dollar men make. Another reason is that the NBA was officially formed in 1949 and its female counterpart started 21 years ago. Therefore, the revenue gap between the two leagues is significant.

The NBA made almost $6 billion in revenue in the 2015-16 season, compared to roughly $51.5 million last year for the WNBA. Precise data for the latter don’t exist, but that’s based on the TV deal they have with ESPN. The NBA splits its revenue 50/50 between players and owners. The WNBA has a more convoluted distribution and the players have seen less of it in the last few years. According to Forbes, WNBA players take home less than 25 percent of the league’s revenue. It used to be 33 percent. Revenue is accumulated through ticket sales, merchandise, sponsorships and TV deals. NBA games have more than double the amount of fans than WNBA games and sells much more merchandise.

Another thing to consider is salaries. According to Forbes, as of 2016, NBA players make an average of $6.2 million per year. According to Vice Sports, that number goes way down to $75,000 for WNBA players. The maximum salary in the latter league is about $110,000, per CNBC, which is almost five times less than the NBA’s minimum salary. With that in mind, according to Buzzfeed, there were 52 NBA players in 2014 who made more money than the entire WNBA combined. The chart below shows nine NBA all stars and their salaries in 2014 compared to what the WNBA paid all of its players.