When seventeen-year-old Helen Worden scored a goal for her school’s soccer team, the Burlington High School Seahorses in Vermont, she rallied her teammates together for a bold statement against gendered wage discrimination. The Seahorses ran to the stands and removed their jerseys, revealing shirts printed with the message “#EQUALPAY.”
This young activists were inspired by the US Women’s National Soccer Team, which won the Women’s World Cup in July. The players since spoken out against the wage gap in soccer; the female World Cup champions received $4 million for their victory, while the prize for the men’s world cup was $38 million.
Twenty-eight members of the U.S. team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for discrimination. “These athletes generate more revenue and garner higher TV ratings but get paid less simply because they are women,” said the spokesperson for the U.S. Women’s Team before the lawsuit.
The crowd cheered on the Burlington Seahorses, but the girls were punished for their statement. The referee gave them yellow cards, citing a rule that athletes in Vermont are not allowed to wear clothing with slogans.
But the Seahorses were not discouraged, and ended the game in a tie. “It was definitely worth it,” said the team’s captain. The girls have partnered with Change The Story, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving women’s “economic well-being” in Vermont, to sell the shirts for $25. They have received over 1,000 orders.