A BBC study – released today – into prize money levels within professional sport has shown that the gender prize money gap in sport is closing, with squash highlighted as a sport making impressive strides in recent years to achieve parity.
A key focus for the PSA since joining with the former Women’s Squash Association in 2015 to form one central governing boy for the sport, Women’s prize money and playing opportunities have continued to go from strength-to-strength during the past two years – with the 2017 AJ Bell PSA World Championship in Manchester this December set to be a landmark moment when equal prize money will be on offer at the sport’s biggest event for the first time.
This season alone the total level of funds available across the Women’s Tour rose by over $162,000 year-on-year, representing a 9 per cent increase, to reach a total prize fund in excess of $1,986,000 – while the average prize fund per event on the Women’s Tour also rose by 4 per cent this season.
Integral to the rise in prize money this season was the introduction of the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca tournament, which this year became the most lucrative Women’s squash tournament ever held in South America. With a total prize purse of $70,000 up for grabs, it was Malaysia’s Nicol David who beat America’s Olivia Blatchford to lift the title.
A $200,000 prize fund was on offer at the 2016 Al Ahram International at the start of last season – returning to the PSA World Tour calendar for the first time since 2006 – which was split evenly across the Men’s and Women’s draws, marking the first time a major tournament in Egypt has offered parity in prize money.
Al Ahram became the fifth major event – following the footsteps of the U.S. Open (2013), Windy City Open (2015), Tournament of Champions (2016) and World Series Finals (2016) – to reach parity in prize money while the British Open also joined that list later in the season, marking the first time in the history of the prestigious competition that female players earned the same as their male counterparts.
The 2017 British Open was also the first major British squash tournament to offer financial parity to competitors – while later this year the PSA Men’s and Women’s World Championships, which will be held in Manchester, will also offer equal prize money across both draws for the first time ever with the winners set to take home over $45,000 each.
“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,” 33-year-old Laura Massaro told BBC Sport.
“To see that come 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.”