A junior surfing competition has attracted global criticism after this photo went viral showing the male winner receiving twice as much prize money as the female competitor.
The photo shows Rio Waida, the male winner holding a cheque for ZAR8000 (AUD$800) while Zoe Steyn, the female champion was awarded ZAR4000 (AUD$400) at the Billabong Pro junior series in South Africa.
The photo was posted on the competition’s official Facebook page, and was immediately shared thousands of times and slammed by disgusted fans who wrote comments such as:
“Did the girls surf a different ocean that was easier that we didn’t know about?”
“This is ridiculous. It is not 1918, it is 2018. The competition organisers should be deeply ashamed of themselves. What are we teaching our girls through this sort of archaic discrimination.”
The World Surfing League, which determines the prize money, went into damage control and said the prize money was determined by the number of competitors in the male and female events.
Each competitor pays an entry fee, and that entry fee goes towards the prize money – the greater the number of competitors, the greater the pool of money for prizes.
“Men get double the prize money only because there are double the competitors,” explained Will Hayden-Smith from the World Surfing League.
In an opinion piece for Fairfax, columnist Clementine Ford was outraged, describing the pay disparity as “sexism”, writing:
“The real mystery here is how no-one involved in this competition at any step of the way thought it was at all wrong or even odd to have two separate competition winners judged so differently despite having performed in the same conditions.”
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Discrimination Claims, said it was a bad move by the organisers.
“For a multi-million dollar organisation to argue that it has to rely on entry fees to determine prize money is a bit of a cop out,” he said.
“The days of different pay for boys and girls are over – stump up the money, and make sure competitors who perform in the same event, with the same conditions, on the same day, are also paid the same prize money, regardless of gender.”
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