“You are not lesser just because you're a girl.”
American professional soccer player
Olympic gold medalist (2012)
Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup winner (2015, 2019)
Ink and colored pencil drawing on a map of Paris, France, where she won her second FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.
Gender-based pay inequality is a chronic issue across the world and is especially present in sports. The US Women’s team is ranked No. 1 in the world for women’s soccer and they’ve won four World Cups, including the last two in a row. The Men’s team in comparison has struggled to even qualify for the World Cup for much of its history and has never played in a final match. Despite the massive success mismatch and the women’s team contributing higher revenues to US Soccer, the men’s team is paid and supported much better than the women’s team.
Fully sick of this, Rapinoe led her teammates to sue US Soccer for gender discrimination in the spring of 2019, before they made their fourth Cup run. Former team captain, Julie Foudy, praised Rapinoe’s efforts, especially for not waiting until after winning their fourth Cup, saying, “We had been socialized not to stir the pot and we probably would have said, ‘let’s plant that flag after we’ve won.’”
US Soccer responded to the suit with a variety of ugly claims, including one that being a male soccer player requires more skill and responsibility.
Rapinoe was having none of that, saying in a post-game interview, “To every girl out there, to every boy out there, who watches this team, who wants to be on this team or just wants to live their dream out, you are not lesser just because you're a girl. You are not better just because you're a boy.”
Background on Rapinoe:
Born: July 5, 1985, Redding, California.
Rapinoe and her team dominated the field at the 2019 World Cup, hosted by France. Facing off against host country France in the quarter-finals, Rapinoe scored both of the US’ goals in the 2-1 game. She smiled at the audience with her arms outstretched for her goal celebration and the moment was quickly hailed as an “iconic” moment in sports. The game took place in Le Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.
Mirroring the 2019 Cup run, Rapinoe’s soccer career has been a story of relentless success on the field paired with high-profile advocacy for equality. Her advocacy work includes activism and philanthropic ventures around gender, race, and LGBT issues.
This episode contains music by Geovane Bruno and Zakhar Valaha.
- Andrew, S., & Muaddi, N. (2019, June 29). Megan Rapinoe struck an epic pose after scoring against France in the Women’s World Cup. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/29/football/megan-rapinoe-soccer-france-trnd/index.html
- Carroll, C. (2019, November 1). USWNT Uses Its Equal Pay Lawsuit as Confetti for World Cup Victory Parade. Sports Illustrated. https://www.si.com/soccer/2019/07/10/uswnt-womens-world-cup-victory-parade-lawsuit-confetti
- ESPN. (2020, June 3). USWNT lawsuit versus U.S. Soccer explained - Defining the pay gaps, what’s at stake for both sides. ESPN.Com. https://www.espn.com/soccer/united-states-usaw/story/4071258/uswnt-lawsuit-versus-us-soccer-explained-defining-the-pay-gapswhats-at-stake-for-both-sides
- Guzman, F., & Ahmed, S. (2020, March 12). Megan Rapinoe tears into US Soccer with a powerful message: “To every girl out there . . . you are not lesser.” CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/12/us/us-womens-soccer-protest-spt-trnd/index.html
- Johnson, L. M. (2020, March 12). US Soccer claims it won’t pay women equally because being a male player requires more skill. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/11/us/us-soccer-federation-court-document-trnd/index.html
- Kelly, M. (2019, August 7). Are U.S. women’s soccer players really earning less than men? Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/08/are-us-womens-soccer-players-really-earning-less-than-men/
- Megan Rapinoe. (2020, February 2). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megan_Rapinoe
- Vrentas, J. (2021, May 27). 2019 Sportsperson of the Year: Megan Rapinoe. Sports Illustrated. https://www.si.com/sportsperson/2019/12/09/megan-rapinoe-2019-sportsperson-of-the-year
- Wamsley, L. (2019, March 8). U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Sues U.S. Soccer For Gender Discrimination. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/03/08/701522635/u-s-womens-soccer-team-sues-u-s-soccer-for-gender-discrimination