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Burlington High School Girls Soccer Team Wears Their Support For #EqualPay

Four girls wear white jerseys with equal pay written on them.
Elodie Reed
From right to left, Burlington High School soccer captains Maggie Barlow, Helen Worden and Mia Vota, plus freshman player Lydia Sheeser, stand for a portrait and wear the jerseys they made to call attention to the wage gap between men and women.

The Burlington High School girls soccer team is advocating for equal pay for women with special-made jerseys. The team is hoping people will buy and wear them when Burlington takes on rival South Burlington this Friday night.

Jessica Nordhaus is with the group Change the Story VT, an organization that works with a trio of other nonprofits to foster economic equality and security for women in Vermont. Her daughter, Lydia, plays for the Burlington High School team, and Nordhaus said the girls' efforts were inspired by the U.S. women's national soccer team's call for equal pay with the men.

Listen to Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb’s interview with Jessica Nordhaus above.

“They landed on this idea, that it would be great to have a game under the lights where they invited the Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League to attend, and they would have the whole stands filled with folks in white jerseys that say #EqualPay on the front,” Nordhaus said.

Hands hold up a t-shirt with equal pay written on it, with a t-shirt in the background that reads Burlington.
Credit Elodie Reed / VPR
Burlington High School soccer player and freshman Lydia Sheeser holds out the jerseys her mom, Jessica Nordhaus, helped the team make and use to raise awareness about the wage gap between men and women.

While the jerseys are being sold for $25, Nordhaus said men are invited to pay an extra $4.80 for the shirts, as a symbolic gesture toward evening out the wage gap.

“The wage gap in Vermont right now is 16 cents, which means that women make on average 84 cents to the dollar that men make,” she said. “We know that the wage gapfor women of color is much greater.

Change The Story VT used American Community Survey data between 2009 and 2013 to calculate a 16 cent wage gap in Vermont. The American Association of University Women, a national nonprofit, has used 2018 American Community Survey data to place Vermont’s wage gap at 15 cents.

The proceeds from the jerseys will go to the Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League according to Nordhaus.

“A lot of these girls played for GBGSL growing up, and they’re really interested in connecting back with that league and providing some scholarships to help girls who might otherwise not be able to access that kind of activity,” she said.

A t-shirt in the grass that reads equal pay.
Credit Elodie Reed / VPR
The Burlington High School boys soccer team bought #EqualPay t-shirts made by the girls soccer team to show support for closing the wage gap.

In the meantime, Nordhaus said the response to the #EqualPay shirts and the Burlington High School girls soccer team’s efforts has been “tremendous.”

“We have over 425 orders for shirts right now,” she said. “The Burlington varsity boys team last Friday wore them to warm up and surprised us. We didn’t know this, but they were wearing them underneath their game jerseys, so after they scored a goal, they came running over and lifted up their game jerseys and their equal pay shirts were underneath, which was pretty cool.”

Another thing that would be pretty cool? If U.S. women's national soccer team players took notice of the #EqualPay shirts.

“I think that the girl’s soccer team has been tagging them,” Nordhaus said. “Hopefully.”

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.
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