Vermont equal pay movement lands in top year-end magazines

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Vermont equal pay movement lands in top year-end magazines

Wed, 12/11/2019 - 11:34am -- tim

Photo courtesy of Brian MacDonald/Change the Story

Vermont Business Magazine Change The Story and the Burlington High School girls soccer team received yet another accolade for standing up for pay equity: in Time Magazine's Athlete of the Year story. The publication recognized the U.S. Women’s National Team, and noted the #EqualPay jersey collaboration. Read the story here: time.com/athlete-of-the-year-2019-us-womens-soccer-team.

Change The Story – the statewide non-profit initiative who supported the team to make the jerseys – is releasing a report with Vermont data on women’s economic status (including a significant section on equal pay) on December 18th. The report shows that Vermont women working full time still earn about $8,000 less per year than men.

From the Time Athlete of the Year article:

Most important, the team’s fight for their fair share has been taken up far and wide. This fall, Australia’s soccer federation reached a landmark deal with its players: total revenue generated by both the women’s and men’s teams will now be split equally. In Burlington, Vt., a girls’ high school soccer team partnered with a local nonprofit, Change the Story, to sell athletic shirts emblazoned with #EQUALPAY.

“It’s scary that these women can be the best in the world and they’re still fighting for pay equality,” says Maia Vota, a senior on the Burlington High School team. “I don’t want to see that in my future.”

The team’s campaign went viral when four players received excessive-celebration yellow cards for peeling off their uniform jerseys after scoring a goal, revealing the #EQUALPAY shirts. The money raised—more than $100,000—will help broaden access to soccer for girls in under-served communities and fund women’s economic-empowerment efforts in the state.

Among those who bought a shirt was Roger Ranz, the referee who issued the penalties. He says protocol required him to hand out the cards, but he fully supports the cause. “I believe in what they’re doing,” says Ranz. “I believe in what the U.S. women’s national soccer team is trying to accomplish as well.”

The team also was recently featured in the "Sportsperson of the Year" edition of Sports Illustrated. The annual publication recognized Megan Rapinoe, US Women’s National Team soccer player. The Burlington teens were included as an example of how Rapinoe and her teammates are inspiring activism on and off the field and advocacy for equal pay. Change The Story – the statewide non-profit initiative who supported the team to make the jerseys – is releasing a report with Vermont data on women’s economic status (including a significant section on equal pay) on December 18th. The report shows that Vermont women working full time still earn about $8,000 less per year than men. 

The young women’s advocacy began long before their game-stopping “excessive celebration” on October 18th. When the season began, the Vermonters wanted to raise awareness for pay equity, an international movement by women’s soccer teams. They reached out to Change The Story, a statewide collaborative effort of the Vermont Women’s Fund, Vermont Commission on Women and Vermont Works for Women. Jessica Nordhaus, Director of Strategy and Partnerships for Change The Story, said, “We had the great honor of supporting the team to professionally print the jerseys, providing them with Vermont wage gap data, and assisting with logistics, strategy and communications.” 

The now famous #EqualPay jerseys began as a casual fundraiser for the Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League, in an effort to increase access and diversify the sport starting with the youngest local players. Change The Story helped the team think even bigger, drawing on decades of work from leaders in the Vermont women’s movement. “We set the conditions that informed and supported these young women, and later young men, to take a stand for gender equity,” said Jessica Nordhaus, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Change The Story. “We’re just beginning to see what change this team can bring to life with their commitment to justice, dedication and inspiring energy”

After scoring during their senior game, the athletes in their exuberance removed their regular uniform jerseys and reveal the #EqualPay shirts beneath. This led to a yellow card penalty for “excessive celebration” and then ultimately many national and international press appearances for the young women to share their reasons for advocating for equal pay. 

The newest report on the status of Vermont women will be released on December 18th at 8:30am at the Barre Labor Hall. The public is welcome to this event as well as invited to contribute financially through the Vermont Women’s Fund at: https://bit.ly/2P43y51

Meg Smith, Director of the Vermont Women’s Fund said, “These young women are the result of our 25 years of work to give women and girls stable and productive lives. Because we have built a foundation for action, this new generation can take the work further toward systemic, cultural change.”

Source: Change The Story. 12.11.2019