A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem

A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem

January 04, 2021


Yu Gu and Elizabeth Ai

Two brave cheerleaders battle the massive, male-dominated sports league the NFL for recognition, and a raise.


About the Documentary

A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem sheds light on the continued fight to end the gender pay gap prevalent throughout the National Football League. For over 50 years, the NFL has employed cheerleaders—women who are lifelong athletes expected to both maintain a peak physical condition and fulfill extreme beauty standards. Many of these athletes have been historically underpaid, with some earning as little as $5 an hour, while others are never paid a salary at all. A Woman’s Work chronicles the journeys of cheerleaders from the Oakland Raiders and the Buffalo Bills, each of whom put their careers on the line to take legal action and fight for fair pay.

Through the stories of two women in particular—Lacy, a former cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders and mother of three, and Maria, a former Buffalo Bills cheerleader, both of whom take up the grueling fight for fair pay against the NFL—the film paints a vivid picture of gender inequality at the heart of America’s favorite pastime.  A Woman’s Work features interviews with former cheerleaders—some who have filed lawsuits against and others who stand staunchly in support of the NFL—their family members, and labor lawyers.

The Filmmakers

Yu Gu

Yu Gu (director) is an award-winning filmmaker born in Chongqing, China, and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Yu’s short, personal documentary, A Moth in Spring premiered at Hot Docs International Film Festival in Toronto and traveled to over a dozen international film festivals before being distributed by HBO.

Elizabeth Ai

Elizabeth Ai (producer/writer) has over a decade of experience producing narrative, documentary, and branded content. She writes and produces for various companies such as VICE, ESPN, and National Geographic Channels for which she and her team have won a News & Documentary Emmy in 2012.

Full Credits

Learn more about the documentary

Join the Discussion

Did this film change your perspective about NFL cheerleaders? Do you think cheerleaders are athletes and should be paid accordingly?