Surfing competition slammed over this photo
TWO junior surfers have found themselves at the centre of a furious debate over gender equality after a surfing competition's organisers shared a seemingly innocent picture of them on social media.
The podium photo showing the smiling young competitors holding their winner's cheques shows a big difference in their earnings.
Female champion of the Billabong Pro Junior series in Ballito, South Africa, Zoe Steyn won 4000 rand ($A400) over the weekend, while Rio Waida, the male winner, beat off the competition to earn himself 8000 rand ($A800).
The controversial image was uploaded onto the Ballito Pro Facebook page and it didn't take long before thousands of angry comments about the pay gap came flooding in.
"The fact that you do not care at all about the pay gap in your competition, but in fact readily display it is simply astounding," wrote one angry commenter on the competition's Facebook page, alongside a one-star review.
"I'm sure that every young female surfer is seriously rethinking their future after seeing this. I will personally never support any of the sponsors for this competition in any form again. Simply disgusting."
"Disgusting and blatant discrimination in your payment of the two winners," wrote another. "Half for the girl cause you're only half as good as your male competitors is what you're saying. The 1950s called, they want their pay scale back. Move with the times and don't support the gender pay gap."
Thousands shared the post further afield on Twitter and Facebook, with comments such as: "Did the girls surf a different ocean that was easier we don't know about?"
However, WSL Australia/Oceania Regional Manager Will Hayden-Smith told TripleJ's Hack there is more to the photo than meets the eye.
He claims the sum scrawled onto the winner's cheques in surfing competitions is actually determined by how many surfers are in the male and female fields.
"Men get double the prize money only because there are double the competitors," Will Hayden-Smith told ABC.
"In Australia, the prize money at a junior event is $2500 for women and $5000 for men. In the men's field we have 64 surfers and in the women's field we have 24."
The debate over pay comes at a momentous time for women in the sport as the #metoo movement pushed World Surf League to ask cinematographers not to zoom in on female surfers.
According to Stab magazine, the WSL met on the Gold Coast during the Quiksilver Pro and sexual harassment was the number one topic for their human resource department.
"The meeting was a refresher on the rules and responsibilities of all WSL employees, a scenario taking place at big businesses around the world," the magazine reported in March.
"No inappropriate jokes. No leering at colleagues or competitors. Absolute gender equality in all parts of the operation.
"All cinematographers have been instructed to exercise discretion while shooting the women's heats. Cinematographers must be careful to be zoomed out during bottom turns or duck dives.
"A live broadcast means there's no time for editing so all camera operators need to use common sense when shooting. That means wide shots of any competitors in skimpy swimwear. Girls who surf in boardshorts will feature larger on screen than those in bikinis."