In the US, women who work full-time are paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. For years now, women have worked effortlessly to close that wage gap. Now, heroes for women’s rights in the world of marathon running are making headlines after changing prize money rules at the Boston Marathon.
On Thursday, the Boston Marathon announced they would be “awarding prize money to women runners who were previously deemed ineligible due to differing rules between elite women’s and men’s races,” according to Buzzfeed.
What exactly were those different rules? In layman’s terms, women were only eligible for prize money if they qualified for the “elite women’s start”, also known as the EWS. It is “a professional-level starting group that requires the highest level of marathon times.”
In 2018, the qualifying time for the EWS was 2:47:50; only 46 women made the cut. This meant that only 46 women were eligible for prize money.
16,587 Men & Just 46 Women Were Eligible for Prize Money This Year
The EWS made it so that just 46 women were eligible for prize money this year; while 16,587 men were eligible. When T.K. Skenderian, communications director for the Boston Athletic Association, was asked why women have to be in the EWS to win money, he said, “These are viewed as two separate competitions and this women’s-only start has become the preference of elite women athletes in distance running for more than a decade.”
Jessica Chichester, a 31-year-old nurse, placed fifth among all women racing this year in the Boston Marathon. But because she missed the qualifying time to join the EWS, she didn’t walk away with any money. What’s more is that she was only 23 seconds of the Olympic marathon qualifying time.
Veronica Jackson, another woman who did not qualify for the EWS, placed 13th on race day. She, too, walked away empty-handed. If she had qualified for the EWS, she would have made $1,800.
Fortunately, news of this form of gender discrimination led to public outcry and the Boston Marathon has changed its rules. On Thursday, Skenderian said that not only had the Boston Athletic Association reversed its rules so that women who were not part of the EWS would be eligible for prize money, but that three women whose times ranked them in the top fifteen and two women who placed within the ‘over-40 Master’s Division’ would be given prize money, according to Vox.