Megan Rapinoe to Congress on Gender Pay Gap: 'We Don't Have to Wait'

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U.S. women's soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Margaret Purce joined President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in person Wednesday as the couple hosted an event to mark Equal Pay Day, which dozens of U.S. women's national team players joined virtually.

"I've been devalued, I've been disrespected and dismissed because I am a woman. I've been told that I don't deserve any more than less because I am a woman," Rapinoe said. "Despite all the wins, I'm still paid less than men who do the same job that I do. For each trophy, of which there are many, and for each win, for each tie and for each time that we play, it's less. 

"I know there are millions of people who are marginalized by gender in the world, and experience the same thing in their jobs. And I know there are people who experience even more, where the layers of discrimination continue to stack against them. And I and my teammates are here for them. We on the women's national team today are here because of them."

Earlier on Wednesday, Rapinoe testified in front of the House Oversight Committee in a hearing focused on pay inequalities between men and women.

Rapinoe, who has been vocal on gender and racial equality, was part of a lengthy Instagram Live conversation with President Joe Biden on this topic in January. Rapinoe also knelt during the national anthem on several occasions before matches to show solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his activism for racial equality.

Rapinoe, 36, began her testimony by saying anybody in any position can be a victim of inequality. 

"What we've learned, and what we continue to learn, is there's no level of status and there's no accomplishment or power that will protect you from the clutches of inequality," Rapinoe said. "One cannot simply outperform inequality or be excellent enough to escape discrimination of any kind."

The Olympic and World Cup gold medalist also highlighted how the women's national team has been incredibly successful in recent years but players are significantly paid less than their male counterparts. 

"If that can happen to us, to me, with the brightest light shining on us—it can, and it does, happen to every person who is marginalized by gender," Rapinoe said. "And we don't have to wait. We don't have to continue to be patient. We can change that today. Right now. We just have to want to."

The hearing comes on the heels of the NCAA facing major backlash for the disparities between the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments. Players in the women's tournament called out the NCAA for only supplying them with a small number of weights while the men were given a massive weight-lifting area with an array of exercising equipment. 

The NCAA has since supplied proper equipment and NCAA president Mark Emmert has agreed to an independent review of the disparities between the tournaments.