"Enough is enough," says the soccer star.
Even the glory of being a elite athlete couldn’t shield Abby Wambach from the reality of the gender pay gap, an inequality that dogs many women—including soccer stars.
Now that she’s about to wrap up her professional soccer career and retire, the legendary player has decided she will focus much of her time and energy on closing the gender equality gap—not only in soccer and sports, but in as many areas as possible, Wambach said on Tuesday at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in San Francisco.
“I started to reflect on my career and I started to get pissed,” she said of the realization that the financial rewards of her career were far smaller than those of male soccer players, regardless of her achievements.
Wambach, who began to play soccer at a young age and eventually won two Olympic gold medals, a FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year, said that despite holding the record for most international goals scored by any soccer player—male or female—being paid less or respected less as a female athlete was always part of her career and life.
“I’m not, like, male-hating. I believe we need them too,” she said. “But the reality is that people are brought up thinking that women are inferior.”
So far, only one prominent professional sport has achieved any semblance of gender pay equality: tennis. Since 2007, the Wimbledon tennis tournament has paid out the same amount of prize money to both men and women.
There’s a lot of work to be done and the pay gap is something Wambach wants to help change, at least for the next generation of women. She added that she plans to create something tangible, not just a movement without any visible change. While she didn’t lay out any concrete plans for the MPW Next Gen crowd, she did promise that she’s prepared to do whatever it takes.
When it comes to gender inequality, said Wambach, “Enough is enough.”