US Women’s Soccer and Systemic Inequality

This post is by Continuations by Albert Wenger from Continuations by Albert Wenger

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First, congratulations to the US Women’s National Team on a repeat world championship, their fourth overall. Here is a clip of the beautiful goal by Rose Lavelle

Second, the team’s victory brings with it a microcosm of the large scale social conflicts playing out today. It is simultaneously a tribute to women’s progress and a stark reminder of the pervasiveness of systemic inequality. All one has to do is look at the discussion around pay for the women’s team to see this. Women are facing not just defensiveness, but massive outright hostility simply for wanting fair pay.

I encourage anyone who still wants to cling to some economic justification to read this WSJ article and this Washington Post piece (annoyingly both paywalled), which provide the numbers that show this simply isn’t the case. Even more importantly though soccer shows how much inequality today is still the result of self re-enforcing . Money (or reputation, or power) made at the top of a field influences what happens upstream. Why does the US have such a formidable women’s soccer team compared to other nations? Exactly because we intentionally broke this systematic feedback loop with Title IX. So yes, these issues do not somehow magically fix themselves through some imagined meritocracy.

I will readily admit that I did not have a real appreciation for the extent of these difficulties until I started backing female entrepreneurs. So if this all sounds remote to you, I encourage you to support female or minority entrepreneurs, athletes, researchers, artists, etc. and get to know what they are up against.