A recent BBC study (of which, the link can be found below) into prize money levels in professional sports has shown that the gender gap in prize money winnings is closing. Squash has been highlighted as the sport with the greatest gender parity and is highlighted as a sport that is making incredible strides in equality between men and women pro players.
BBC Study Link: http://www.bbc.com/sport/40299469
One of the key focuses for the PSA since merging with the former WSA (Women’s Squash Association) in 2015 was to form one, central governing body for the sport. Playing opportunities, tournaments, and prize money have continued to rise in strength during the last two years — with the 2017 AJ Bell PSA World Championship in Manchester, England in December set as the landmark moment, where equal prize was awarded between men and women players at the sport’s largest event — for the first time.
In this season alone, the total level of prize money available across the Women’s Tour rose by over $162,000 year-over-year. This represents a 9 percent increase and reaches a total prize fund amount in excess of $1,986,000 — the average prize fund per event on the Women’s Tour also rose by 4 percent this season.
One of the integral reasons in the rise of prize money this season was the intro of the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca tournament, in which this year became the most lucrative Women’s squash tourney to ever be held in South America. With a $70,000 purse up for grabs, Nicol David of Malaysia beat out Olivia Blatchford of the U.S. to lift that title.
The 2016 Al Ahram International offered a $200,000 prize fund last season — this tournament returned to the PSA World Tour calendar for the first time since 2006 — and the six figure prize was evenly split across the men and women’s draws, which marked the first time that a major tournament in Egypt has offered parity in prize money.
Al Ahram was the fifth major event, following the footsteps of the U.S. Open in 2013, the Windy City Open in 2014, Tournament of Champions in 2016, and the World Series Finals in 2016, to reach parity in prize money. The British Open also joined that list later in the season, which was the first time in the history of the prestigious event that female players earned the same as the males.
The 2017 British Open (also called the Wimbledon of Squash) was also the first major British squash tourney to offer financial parity to competitors. Later this year the PSA Men’s and Women’s World Championships also offered equal prize money across both draws for the first time ever with the winners taking home over $45,000 each.
Laura Massaro of England is a well known and respected squash player who is not alone in her hope for gender parity in the game of squash. “It frustrated me that we played the same number of games and put in the same amount of training and effort as the men but because we may have been perceived as playing at a slightly lower level to the men we weren’t paid the same.
“To see that some good now after pushing for the women to be a part of the Professional Squash Association and growing the sport together as equals has been a real bonus.”
And we could not agree more. The women of the PSA tournaments have been putting on incredible displays of showmanship and skill equal to that of of the male players. With squash on the forefront of professional sports’ rising gender parity in pay, they are setting a great example. However, there is still a lot of work to do in many other pro sports where equality is concerned.