The first-ever women’s IPL is over. And the packed stadiums couldn’t have been a better advertisement for women’s cricket. Next year will be even bigger!

But all the money being splashed about also got us thinking about pay parity in sports. So in today’s Finshots, we decided to write about it.

The Story

Mumbai Indians just won the inaugural women’s IPL and took home ₹6 crores. But the winners of the men’s IPL in a couple of months will bag over ₹20 crores. Harmanpreet Kaur’s annual contract is worth ₹50 lakhs. Rohit Sharma gets ₹7 crores. Both of them captain the Indian cricket team.

And some would argue that there is a pay disparity here and that women should get paid the same kind of money.

But this arguement leaves out a few critical details. The first one is perhaps that women’s IPL only lasted 3 weeks. The men’s tournament will run for 2 months. There’s also the fact that Harmanpreet Kaur doesn’t play nearly as many games as Rohit Sharma. And finally, there is the biggest reason. The economics of men’s and women’s games are entirely different.

Statistically, women’s tournaments aren’t quite there yet. They don’t rake in the same kind of money that men’s leagues do. They don’t draw as many eyeballs or sponsors. So naturally, women athletes don’t get paid as much. In fact, if you look at the women’s National Basketball Association (NBA) in the US, it’s a loss making endeavour. The men’s NBA league subsidises it.

Okay, so if that’s settled, why on earth are we talking about pay equity?

Well, because you don’t always have to equalise outcomes by simply paying them more money. Instead you could look at ways to improve women’s sport and perhaps understand why they don’t garner as many eyeballs.

Firstly, let's start with some history. What is sport and how did it come to be dominated by men? Now there isn’t a lot of research from evolutionary biologists. But if you look at Ancient Greece, you’ll notice something interesting. Running and wrestling were some of the earliest sports to emerge as serious athletic events. And no doubt, they were designed to test men’s strength and endurance. Women couldn’t participate. They were mere onlookers.

But what if things were a bit different? What if women were dictating terms? As philosopher Jane English wrote in 1978:

“Speed, size, and strength seem to be the essence of sports. Women are naturally inferior at ‘sports’ so conceived. But if women had been the historically dominant sex, our concept of sport would no doubt have evolved differently. Competitions emphasizing flexibility, balance, strength, timing, and small size might dominate Sunday afternoon television and offer salaries in six figures.”

Secondly — If you fast forward to the 1900s when women began to take up sport in a big way, you’ll see that they had to deal with more than a few artificial constraints.

For instance, in 1920, women’s football was actually a pretty big deal in England. 53,000 people showed up in the stands for one of the matches. But the very next year, the national football association said that “the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.” They banned women from playing football. Until 1971!

You’ll see a similar pattern in athletics too.

Thirdly — let’s talk about viewership. There’s absolutely no doubt about it. People prefer to watch men play. They want to see a windmill dunk from Lebron James. Or a 110-metre helicopter six by MS Dhoni. But things are changing. In a study conducted across multiple countries recently, they found that 66% of people now say they’re interested in at least one women’s sport. And if you drill this down a bit and ask only sports fans, 84% of them said they’d watch a woman’s sport.

But what if there are gatekeepers who don’t really cooperate?

Take tennis for instance. An analysis of 250,000 news articles in more than 80 languages revealed something shocking. Women’s tennis grand slams — which are the top 4 tournaments each year — receive ~40% less coverage than men’s games. This, despite women’s tennis consistently raking in millions of viewers. In fact, in 2018, the US Open Women’s singles final had 1.04 million more viewers than the Men’s final. As did Wimbledon. And in 2022, 4 out of the 6 matches with the highest viewership were all women’s games.

Or look at cricket. When India played Australia in the Women’s T20 World Cup final in 2020 in Melbourne, the stadium was packed. Over 86,000 fans turned up. It was a record. But in Australia, the main channel decided not to broadcast the game. They shunted it to a secondary channel so that it wouldn’t clash with the news and a reality TV show.

Now imagine if the media was a bit more cooperative. Perhaps women’s sports would get more eyeballs. Even the sponsors would more likely to put in some money.

So in some ways, you could argue that atleast a part of the pay disparity is a consequence of historical gatekeeping. And while it doesn’t make sense to simply ask organizers to pay everyone the same wage, maybe it makes sense for people to give women’s sports a little push. A little nudge. That alone could get more women into sports and help bridge the pay disparity to a certain extent.

Until then…

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Ditto Insights: Why Millennials should buy a term plan

According to a survey, only 17% of Indian millennials (25–35 yrs) have bought term insurance. The actual numbers are likely even lower.

And the more worrying fact is that 55% hadn’t even heard of term insurance!

So why is this happening?

One common misconception is the dependent conundrum. Most millennials we spoke to want to buy a term policy because they want to cover their spouse and kids. And this makes perfect sense. After all, in your absence you want your term policy to pay out a large sum of money to cover your family’s needs for the future. But these very same people don’t think of their parents as dependents even though they support them extensively. I remember the moment it hit me. I routinely send money back home, but I had never considered my parents as my dependents. And when a colleague spoke about his experience, I immediately put two and two together. They were dependent on my income and my absence would most certainly affect them financially. So a term plan was a no-brainer for me.

There’s another reason why millennials should probably consider looking at a term plan — Debt. Most people we spoke to have home loans, education loans and other personal loans with a considerable interest burden. In their absence, this burden would shift to their dependents. It’s not something most people think of, but it happens all the time.

Finally, you actually get a pretty good bargain on term insurance prices when you’re younger. The idea is to pay a nominal sum every year (something that won’t burn your pocket) to protect your dependents in the event of your untimely demise. And this fee is lowest when you’re young.

So if you’re a millennial and you’re reading this, maybe you should reconsider buying a term plan. And don’t forget to talk to us at Ditto while you’re at it. We only have a limited number of slots everyday, so make sure you book your appointment at the earliest:

1. Just head to our website by clicking on the link here

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