Another step for gender pay equality, but how much progress is being made?

Surfing has become the latest sport to announce equal prize money for men and women

With the World Surf League awarding equal prize money for men and women from next year, we look at how other sports compare when it comes to pay equality.

The WSL is the first US-based global league to adopt parity in pay.

Pay equality a growing trend

Last year, the BBC conducted a study into pay equality in global sports.

Out of 68 governing bodies contacted, 55 replied with 44 of them awarding prize money.

Men and women competed for equal prize money at last year's World Athletics Championships
Men and women competed for equal prize money at last year's World Athletics ChampionshipsMen and women competed for equal prize money at last year's World Athletics Championships

From those, 35 - including athletics, alpine and nordic skiing, badminton, gymnastics, judo, table tennis, swimming and volleyball - paid equal prize money to men and women.

That's 83 percent, up from 70 percent the last time the BBC carried out the survey in 2014.

Surfing has now joined the list with six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore leading the praise.

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Like every female athlete, when you are out there competing, your only focus is on winning. The difference in prize money between men and women never crosses your mind in the heat of competition - you are too busy going all out. Today is a very proud day for me. I’m proud to be a surfer. Proud to be a female surfer. I feel like the momentum in our society to have this conversation is incredible — because it’s not just in surfing, or in sport, that women are fighting for equality. It’s everywhere. And for this announcement to come now, and for it to happen during my career. Thank you @wsl Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world.” #CatchThisWave #EqualByNature #makewavesmovemountains

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Kelly Slater, 11 times men's world champion, also expressed his delight at the announcement.

"The women on the tour deserve this change. I’m so proud that surfing is choosing to lead sports in equality and fairness. The female WSL athletes are equally committed to their craft as the male athletes and should be paid the same. Surfing has always been a pioneering sport, and this serves as an example of that." - Kelly Slater

Football and US sports resist the tide

While the general trend is encouraging, there is a flipside with no women on the 2018 Forbes Top 100 highest-earning athletes list.

The Forbes list does include endorsements meaning Usain Bolt is 45th on 31 million US dollars with just one million of that coming from prize money.

But the main reason for the lack of women is the huge gender pay gap in the sports which attract the most lucrative global TV rights deals.

These are football and NBA basketball which attract far greater salaries than their equivalent female leagues.

The Top 5 of the Forbes List of World's Highest-Paid Athletes
The Top 5 of the Forbes List of World's Highest-Paid AthletesThe Top 5 of the Forbes List of World's Highest-Paid Athletes

Boxing and American Football are also prominent with Atlanta 1996 boxing gold medallist Floyd Mayweather on top thanks to his massive payday for fighting MMA star Conor McGregor.

There is also a big gap in tennis despite there being equal prize money at the four Grand Slam tournaments.

At the main pre-US Open event in Cincinnati, the WTA prize fund for the women was 2.9 million US dollars, less than half of the ATP men's event taking place at the same time.

Serena Williams was the only woman on last year's Forbes List but she was in 51st place below male stars Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori, Rafael Nadal and double Olympic champion Andy Murray.

Serena Williams was below five men on the 2017 Forbes money list
Serena Williams was below five men on the 2017 Forbes money listSerena Williams was below five men on the 2017 Forbes money list

The Olympic movement has been striving towards increasing gender equality in sport.

Over 43 percent of competitors at the Winter Games in PyeongChang were female, a record number as it steers towards equality.

This year’s Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires will see for the first time ever full gender equality with the same number of male and female athletes.

By placing equal emphasis on male and female athletes and events, perhaps more sporting federations will take steps to close the prize money gender gap.

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