The women’s soccer team won the 2015 FIFA world cup by defeating Japan 5-2. Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick in just 13 minutes, as the USA women’s team clinched their third world cup.
The US men’s team has struggled against other teams in the top level, but the women’s team has dominated the game for about a quarter century. In part, the reasons behind this trend reflect the way women are treated in a country.
An analysis by Kuang Keng Kuek Ser shows the correlation between gender equality and the performance in the Women’s World Cup. Kuek Ser took into consideration the 2013 Gender Equality Index from the UN, which measures the comparative status of women with respect to men. The score of each of the top 23 teams was charted in the 2015 WC, except Nigeria which doesn’t have a Gender Equality Index store.
The GII index measures gender inequality in three aspects:
- Reproductive health, which is measured by adolescent birth rates and the maternal mortality ratio
- Empowerment, which is measured by the ratio of parliamentary seats occupied by women
- Economic status, which is measured by the labor force participation rate of men and women aged 15 years and above
The GII values, which range from 0 to 100, show the amount of disparity there is between males and females. The FIFA points include the match results and were from March 27.
From the chart, it can be seen that teams having more than 1800 points are from countries with a gender equality of less than 30 per cent. However, Brazil, the little orange circle on the right-hand side was an exception, with a gender inequality of more than 40 per cent, but a FIFA score of close to 2000.
However, Brazil has high gender disparities even in soccer. Despite being the most popular sport in the country, women’s soccer was banned from 1941 to 1979 because the law stated that women nature is incompatible with the beautiful game. There is no women’s national league for soccer until today.
An alternate explanation is also given from the graph. With the bubble-size showing the GDP, it can be seen that countries with a higher GDP are more towards the right-hand side of the graph, with larger number of FIFA points. But, according to Kuek Ser, gender inequality is more strongly related to the issue than the GDP.
On plotting the GDP with the points of the countries as well as the GII with the points, it can be easily seen that the correlation is better with gender equality. As can be seen from the two graphs, the number of countries above and below the average line are almost equal in case of GII. However. in case of the GDP, the deviation is more, due to a higher number of countries having a low GDP.
Women’s soccer is so successful in the US due to the implementation of title IX, the law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in the education programs that are federally funded. After this law came into effect (1978), women soccer players rose ten-fold. The number has now risen to 375,000. However, basketball and volleyball still has more female participants.
With the US soccer developing, the other countries haven’t really progressed well. In fact, they’re shockingly bad. According to a FIFA report, girls comprise of only about 12 per cent of the youth players and US makes up more than half the total.
There is a definite need to increase the number of women in team sports. As can be seen from the graph above, it directly correlates with gender equality. So, support women’s equality movements, to see the women from your country do better in sports!