Early in my cycling career, I had a chance at a spot on the provincial team for the cycling events at Western Canada Summer Games. Ultimately, there were 10 boys battling for 5 or 6 spots and I didn't make it. On the girls side, I think there were only 6 girls battling for the spots and I believe the coaches even asked for the maximum age to be raised so they could include another girl. Obviously I was choked that I didn't make the team and I even thought it was unfair that 7-10th placed boys were training harder than the 6th placed girl who made the squads.
Prize money should reward commitment to the sport. I've always believed that the top male and female athletes in any event are on average equally as dedicated to training and competing and deserve equal prize money. As the prize money trickles down: sure in a deeper men's field, the racers may be more dedicated than the women, but we're getting to the $50 and lower levels of prize money which might cover the entry fee, but not the transportation, accomodation, and maintenance costs. Might as well just keep it equal.
Anyways, back to the team quotas. I now have the opportunity to represent my county at the Ski Mountaineering World Championships. The 6th ranked French skier who trains way harder than me doesn't. But that French skier likely has the opportunity to live and work in the mountains, train on a nearby ski slope and is placed in a culture supportive of his activities, where I live 4hrs from the mountains, work a 9-5, and don't have nearly the same access to ski mountaineering race gear, specific coaching, etc... If it were easy, there would be more Canadians competing for spots.
I've now realized that the 6th placed girl might not have trained as much as I did, but she is more dedicated just to make it to the start line. Cycling and skiing are largely male dominated sports. Male athletes in these sports don't have to put up with nearly the same levels of peer pressure, body image, bullying, abuse, etc... If it were easy, there would be more girls racing.