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Pro surfing CEO: Unprecedented equal pay move 'has been a long time coming'

The World Surf League (WSL) will be the first professional U.S.-based sports leagues to offer men and women contestants the same prize money, regardless of gender.

“This has been a long time coming,” World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt told Yahoo Finance’s Midday Movers (video above). “It’s a natural next step for us. We’re very proud to be doing it at this point, and it was the right time. We are the first global U.S.-based sports league to offer equal prize money, and one of the first internationally.”

The League runs more than 180 surf events around the world since 1976. Surfing has also been added to the roster for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, introducing the sport to new audiences. In March, Men’s Championship Tour Julian Wilson took home a prize of $100,000.

Malia Manuel from Hawaii celebrates winning the womens final at Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia, on March 5th 2017. (Photo: Nigel Owen/Action Plus via Getty Images).

Pro-surfer Malia Manuel told Yahoo Finance that the WSL’s move toward gender pay equality is a “tremendous and monumental moment for women across the board within sports. Not only us [who surf professinally]. And to see the WSL set the precedent … it’s pretty incredible.”

Women make up almost half the workforce yet still make about 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men,  according to The Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (The statistics are even worse for black or Hispanic women.) This summer, fans criticized the WSL after a junior surf competition winners’ photo showed the young man winning twice as much prize money the young woman.

“Obviously things are changing for women in the world, which is awesome,” WSL Deputy Commissioner and former pro surfer Jessi Miley-Dyer told NPR. “So yeah, we paid attention to what people have been saying, and we thought that it was a great time to do it.”

Read more: Women are now 42% of U.S. breadwinners — but also ‘underestimate the costs of motherhood’