Pay disparity between men and women is an issue that has not gone away. The 2017 Cascade Cycling Classic, the longest consecutively run elite stage race in the country, is not immune. The Elite Men’s overall winner was scheduled to earn a $2,951 payday for his efforts during the five-day stage race. The Elite Women’s winner was to receive $225 for the same effort over the same five days.
As a result of this disparity, DVA Advertising & Public Relations set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the top three overall elite female finishers in the 2017 race, with a goal of raising $15,954 – the difference between the total Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s prize purses.
“What kind of message does it send to young women who might be interested in cycling, that their male counterparts are earning more than 13 times the amount of prize money for the same or similar effort?” said Justin Yax, a partner at DVA Advertising & Public Relations. “As an agency of cyclists, and as fans of the sport and its importance to the Central Oregon community, we felt there was an opportunity to step in and help out where the UCI was restricting the good intentions of race organizers.”
To the credit of race organizers, the Cascade Cycling Classic has distributed equal prize money for both the men’s and women’s elite winners for the past six years. in 2017, due to restrictions placed on the distribution of prize money by the International Cycling Union (UCI), race organizers had little flexibility when establishing the following prize money payouts for the Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s overall winners:
All money DVA raised was distributed to the top three overall Elite Female finishers, proportionate to the current payout amounts. The first place overall finisher received 45 percent of the money raised, the second place finisher received 33 percent, and third place received 22 percent.
We kicked off the fundraising effort with an initial contribution of $500, and hopes other individuals and organizations throughout Central Oregon and beyond will see this as an opportunity to help level the playing field, so to speak, with regard to this year’s Cascade Cycling Classic. In the end, more than $15,000 was added to the women’s prize purse, including $6,500 in community donations. More importantly, our efforts were noticed by UCI President, Brian Cookson.
“We are hopeful this fundraising effort will send a clear message to all the women competing in the 2017 Cascade Cycling Classic that they are appreciated, respected, and valued,” said Yax. “Gender equality and pay disparity continue to plague this country, and the more awareness we can bring to the issue, the better. The outpouring of support has been nothing short of remarkable, in the first 24 hours alone we received more than 70 donations ranging in size from $10 to $1,000. And perhaps more importantly, the community is engaged in an important conversation about equality.”