Joanne Missingham 5p, who plays Go professionally under her Chinese name, Hei Jiajia, was recently spotted carrying an unusual paper fan at her games.
Upon closer inspection, the fan is inscribed with ‘protest against gender discrimination’ in Chinese calligraphy.
Why Joanne Missingham is protesting
The incident that sparked this protest was the recent 2nd Qiandeng Cup, a friendly tournament between Chinese and Taiwanese professionals.
On August 23 2011, the men’s division proceeded as scheduled, however, four players mysteriously withdrew from the women’s division.
It turned out that the Taiwanese Go Association were paying male players 2000 Yuan per game, while female players were not paid at all.
Furthermore, the tournament only awarded prize money to the male division but not the female division.
Female Go players protest against unequal pay
This made several female players so angry that they withdrew from play in protest. When asked to comment on the incident, the Taiwanese Go Association stated that since male players were selected to play in the tournament and female players were ‘free to enter’ the tournament, they would only award game fees and prize money to male players.
This seems very unreasonable as female Go professionals must also make a living, just like their male counterparts. In Asia, more and more women are receiving the highest levels of education and entering the workforce in numbers never seen before. So why the distinction between male and female players in this particular tournament?
A common issue in sport
The issue of unequal prize money between men and women is common and controversial in sports. Tennis is one example. For years some argued that since men play best of 5 sets and women play best of 3 sets in Gram Slams, a difference in prize money was justified.
Women were finally given prize money equality in Wimbledon in 2007.
However in the next tier of tournaments such as the Rome Masters and Cincinnati Open, women and men both play best of 3 sets, and yet the prize money still differs.
Do you think this is fair?
What do you think? Should men and women receive different prize money in Go? What about other sports? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.