Courtesy of: Kara Winger / Liza Smith-Vedder
Elites Optimization Services (EOS) has entered into an exciting partnership with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA). Parity, EOS’s first product, will be the PWHPA’s exclusive online sponsorship tool. This collaboration between two female-focused entities is an important step in both of their missions.
Hockey is one of many sports familiar with gender pay disparity, despite women playing the game for the same number of years as men (more than 130, to be precise). The vast majority of professional women’s hockey players also work regular hours, fitting inadequate and circadian rhythm-interrupting ice time around full-time careers as realtors, teachers, physical therapists, and firefighters, to name a few. In a scenario all-too-familiar to female athletes, these women pay to play, funding their own travel and lodging, gear acquisition, and health insurance with very little athletic wages to supplement their incomes. More often than not, world-class players experience financial losses each season.
The PWHPA, formed in 2019, is composed of women from all experience levels: Olympic and World Champions, recent NCAA graduates, and veterans have come together across team and country lines to form an organization that prioritizes a sustainable future for females in the sport. One of the mission statements on the PWHPA website is, “To collaborate with like-minded organizations to make hockey more inclusive for women today and for the girls of the next generation.” Enter, Parity.
“The PWHPA is proud to partner with Parity, and help improve the gender wage gap for female athletes. Although we have come a long way, there is still a huge need to close this gap,” stated Jayna Hefford, former commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and Hockey Hall-of-Famer. Hefford is the PWHPA Operations Consultant. “Parity and the PWHPA will work together to bring awareness to the gender wage gap and to provide visibility for our PWHPA members. We are excited to join a community of female athletes who want to push for positive change, and we look forward to supporting our fellow athletes who deserve more.” A fellow winter athlete will be integral to the announcement of this agreement. “I have been an athlete all my life, but growing up, I never felt like there were financially viable opportunities in sports for women,” shared Lauren Gibbs, 2018 Olympic bobsled silver medalist and EOS/Parity Director of Marketing, “this partnership takes a step in the right direction to solve that.”
An online platform designed to match professional female athletes with brands they align with for sponsorship opportunities, Parity was built for this kind of dynamic relationship. Using a unique survey to gather data on the passions and interests of PWHPA players, Parity will pair athletes with sponsors for authentic and impactful social media posts. The micro-influencer market will be highly valuable to sponsors within the context of the significant fan base of women’s hockey: Some pre-COVID women’s games drew in-person crowds over 14,000, on par with certain National Hockey League team averages. Furthermore, the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour, launched in 2019 to showcase women’s hockey talent for youth fans in multiple North American cities, will only serve to bolster girls’ fandom. The growth of girl’s hockey already approaches three times that of the boys’ game. The future is female.