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Economy & Business

Women's Hockey Star Meghan Duggan Discusses How She Helped Bring Pay Equality To US Women's Hockey

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Harry How
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Getty Images
Meghan Duggan #10 of the USA is chased by Michelle Karvinen #21 of Finland during the Semifinals of the Hockey Canada Cup on September 5, 2009 in Vancouver, Canada. The USA won 4-0.

Meghan Duggan is inarguably one of the best hockey players in the world. The former Wisconsin Badger was the captain of the Olympic champion team in 2018. During her career she’s earned one gold and two silvers at the Olympics and as a member of the U.S. women’s national hockey team, she’s won 7 world championship titles. 

Last week, she announced her retirement from playing hockey, but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped working to better the sport – especially when it comes to gender equity. 

In 2017, Duggan and the other members of the U.S. women’s national hockey team threatened to boycott the World Championship unless USA hockey agreed to give them greater support. At the time, players were earning less than half of the federal poverty level wage per year. 

USA hockey agreed to greater support, but Duggan says that female hockey players still have a long way to go before there is real, gender parity in the sport. Duggan will be talking about her work toward gender equity as the keynote speaker of the Gamechangers virtual event, presented by the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee.

She points out the fact that there is a large difference between being one of the best women’s hockey players and being one of the best men’s hockey players.

“It’s not a pretty picture to compare a professional women’s hockey player to a professional men’s hockey player,” says Duggan. “My dream is that someday my future daughter or her daughter or other young girls can make a living playing professional women’s ice hockey. We’re not there right now.”

Despite their success, before 2017 the players on the women’s national team were paid just $5,000 a year to play on the team. After their threat of boycott, they received guarantees of raising the pay closer to what the men’s national team receives.

Duggan says despite her retirement, she will still be heavily involved in hockey. Her goal is to be the first female general manager in the NHL.

“Continuing to set lofty goals for myself is something I will always do,” she says.

Lisa Attonita is the executive director of the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee.

She says that in the year of the pandemic which has worsened inequities between men and women, they wanted to hold an event that would highlight how people make changes to entrenched structures.

“We learned of Meghan Duggan’s story and thought it might be a great, uplifting conversation to have,” Attonita. “We think of a gamechanger as one that creates a vision, builds unity, and then goes on a journey and I think Meghan is a perfect example of exact how a gamechanger does that.”