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6 Female Athletes Speak Out on Equal Pay for Women

Furthering the Equal Pay Conversation

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Giving it a rest isn't going to make a difference when it comes to changing the pay gap so many women in so many professions (sports included) face every day. That's why we tapped six pro athletes at the sixth annual espnW Women + Sports summit for their advice. Here, new ways to approach the seemingly taboo topic. Take their words to heart!

Photo: espn

Base Pay Off Hard Work—Not Gender

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"I think payment needs to move away from gender. It needs to be about: 'How hard is this athlete—not female—working and how much do they deserve to be paid?'" —Alana Nichols, three-time Paralympic winner

Photo: Corbis Images

Take Baby Steps

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"The pay gap for winning a World Cup is extremely big: $36 million for men versus $2 million for women. It's a tough thing to swallow knowing that we sacrifice just as much, if not more. I'm not saying that the pay has to be the exact same because I understand there are sponsorship levels on the men's side and there are different things that they bring in. But I think if we can get into the $10 to $15 million range that would be good." —Carli Lloyd, U.S. Women's National Team 2015 World Cup Champion (Psst... Check out Carli Lloyd's 17-Year Plan to Become the World's Greatest Athlete.)

Photo: Corbis Images

Support Other Women

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"Hockey has been around for a while, but women's hockey is very new. (Meet Dani Rylan, Founder of the NWHL.) We have a small salary cap now just to get the National Women's Hockey League off the ground, but I'm looking for that to expand and grow as the league progresses. Not only are we pursuing our dreams of training for the Olympics, but also we're finally getting paid as professionals. This has never happened before—not until this October." —Hilary Knight, two-time Olympic silver medalist in ice hockey and forward for the Boston Blades

Photo: Corbis Images

Spread the Word

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"We got $2 million for winning the World Cup and had to split it up amongst the group. Whereas the U.S. men's team got $8 million after losing in round 16. And we actually won the tournament! It just makes no sense. This is why we're doing whatever we can to use our platforms, like coming here to the espnW Summit, to spread the word and get people interested. We want people to pay more attention. We want put women's football on the map." —Ali Krieger, U.S. Women's National Team 2015 World Cup Champion

Photo: Corbis Images

Do Your Best for a Future Generation

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"Sometimes you won't reap the benefits, but someone else will. Back in the 70s and 80s, pro female runners weren't getting million dollar contracts. They would get a TV and maybe some granola bars. It was different then. It wasn't your primary job. They are looking at us now and saying, 'Wow, we didn't have it that good.' We might not get what we want, but maybe my younger sister will." —Carmelita Jeter, three-time Olympic sprint medalist

Photo: Corbis Images

Stop Comparing Yourself to Men

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"I think the biggest mistake that people make is the constant comparison to men. Always getting compared, like 'Oh, she couldn't play in the NBA' or 'She couldn't beat Lebron James one-on-one.' Or even better, 'She couldn't even beat me!' It's annoying. With those comparisons come the money. We need to keep the focus on the game itself. The NBA is our big brother. They take care of us and they are one of the major reasons why we have a league. But now we are at a point where we do need to separate a little bit. We don't want to be the little sister that the brother is forced to take with him wherever he goes." —Sue Bird, two-time WNBA champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist

Photo: Corbis Images

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