Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MA in Women's History


Women’s History Graduate Program


“Venus to the Hoop," But Not to the Bank: Gender Inequity in Professional Basketball, is an interdisciplinary investigation on the causes of pay inequity in professional basketball. Using the Women’s National Basketball Association’s New York Liberty and the National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks as cases in point, this thesis analyzes the ways in which consumer markets and, subsequently, labor markets are created and maintained in professional basketball. Through an analysis of league and team promotional materials, commercials, and player interviews, I argue that the marketing narrative established by the WNBA is one that largely promotes its players in traditional gender roles. This study reveals that the WNBA’s preoccupation with gender norms, as opposed to player ability, is a chief factor limiting the league’s appeal to larger fan bases and helps maintain the deep disparity in pay between the WNBA and NBA. This research further illuminates the importance of marketing on league and player success in professional sports, and allows for new understandings of the relationship between marketing, fan perception, and league sustainability.