Stab Magazine | Layne Beachley On Surfing's Pay-Gap

Layne Beachley On Surfing’s Pay-Gap

Plus her thoughts on J-Bay, sharks and Steph Gilmore’s competitive mindset. 

news // Jul 1, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The “prize-money discrepancy” in surfing is a hot-topic at the moment; every surf media site, and just about every single non-endemic media platform, has voiced their opinion on the gap for the top prize between the men’s and women’s divisions in surfing. 

The outrage first re-ignited when a photo showing both winners of the Ballito Pro Junior made the rounds on social media. The male winner, Rio Waida, holding a cheque for R8,000, and the women’s winner, Zoe Steyn, holding a cheque for half the amount, R4,000 – $582 and $291 USD respectively. 

I bet the WSL regrets ever posting this photo. Photo. WSL

Comments have ranged from, “did they surf a different ocean?”, to media condemning the WSL’s Australian/Oceania manager, Will Hayden-Smith’s, explanation of the different number of competitors between the two divisions and its impact on prize money. It’s been difficult to find a voice of lucid reason amongst the barrage of reactionary, and mostly uninformed, social media commentary.

Thankfully, Layne Beachley, the world’s most winning female surfer and a long-time advocate for equality in surfing, has addressed the issue on Macquarie Sport’s Radio. For your convenience, here’s some of what Layne had to say about the gap:

“Welcome to the world of surfing…[prize money for the girls] has always been a half hearted affair as far as I’m concerned. We used to battle it out – the top 12 in the world – for $30,000 prize purse while the men were battling it out for $250,000, so there’s always been a huge discrepancy in the pay-gap between men and women.

“When the WSL came and took over the ASP they invested millions of dollars into the women’s tour, that was actually their primary focus and they’ve done a brilliant job of it. They’ve lifted the prize money for the women, lifted for equal time in the water and improved every aspect of the women’s tour and I’m extremely grateful for that.”

“This prize money discrepancy has been a real subject of contention for years and now it’s come to a position where the industry are going to have to do something about it. It’s not the governing body that has to drive this, well to a degree they do, but the industry is going to have to respond.

“When I asked for prize money increases to the ASP, their response to me was, ‘Layne, if we pay you more, the guys will figure out, that percentage wise, you’re earning more than them, we don’t want to pay them more, so therefore we’re not going to pay you more…it’s good to see we’re making a stand [now] and I have no doubt the industry will respond.”

Truthfully, it’s nice to hear a clear and concise description of the issue at hand, particularly by someone as well informed on the issue as Layne Beachley; rather than an incessant supply of reactionary social media jabs.   

Listen to the full 6-minute interview below. Be sure to take note of the male host’s excellent segue from the pay-gap issue into Julian Wilson’s surfing performance, what we can expect from “The J-Bay” and what Layne thinks is holding Steph back from matching her seven world championships.


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