Sports need to engage "in the battle for gender balance and fairness", says UK Minister for Sport Helen Grant after a BBC Sport study into prize money found 30% of sports reward men more highly than women.
The biggest disparities in prize money were found in football, cricket, golf, darts, snooker and squash.
"There is a gap, it needs to be closed but it's not going to happen overnight. We do know that women's sport is very exciting, we know it can draw really big audiences but we need more media coverage and more commercial investment," Grant told BBC Sport.
"It's not just about the bottom line and profits and the return on investment which I believe they will get, it's also taking part in the battle for gender balance and fairness in the 21st century."
A total of 56 global sports were looked at in the extensive study. Out of 35 sports that pay prize money, 25 pay equally and 10 do not. Fourteen sports, including rugby union and hockey, do not pay any prize money at all. Five sports did not provide information for the investigation and men and women compete alongside each other in horse racing and equestrian.
Athletics, bowls, skating, marathons, shooting, tennis and volleyball have all paid equal prize money since before 2004.
In the past decade, nine more sports have starting doing so with five - diving, sailing, taekwondo, windsurfing and some cycling events - achieving equality in the past couple of years.