Today we celebrate women on International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day was started as a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. So many women in history have been instrumental in making changes for a better future for us all. March 8th is officially designated as a day to celebrate those who have paved the way for others.
As a business run partially by women in the surf and skate industry for over 40 years, we witnesses as the gender bias in these sports has begun to shift. We have seen multiple generations of women who have worked hard in the sports and proven their talent to many. The movement is so great that even magazine like Vogue are taking notice. In an article released today, Vogue hired skateboarder and photographer Arto Saari to capture the impact women like Lacey Baker, Samarria Brevard, Vanessa Torres, Alexis Sablone, Jenn Soto, and Mariah Duran are making in the skate world. Here is a glimpse of the way these women are making a change for others.
Watch Vogue’s “New Guard” Video About Women Impacting Skateboarding
Women taking a stand for change
“Women, of course, are not new to the sport of skateboarding—since the skateboard was invented in California sometime around the middle of the 20th century, women such as Patti McGee, Peggy Oki, Kim Cespedes, and Laura Thornhill have played integral roles in the sport’s development. Women are, unfortunately, radically new to the industry of skateboarding, which has long been a boys’ club of contests, sponsorships, paychecks, and glory. The world didn’t get its first woman pro skateboarder until 1998, when Elissa Steamer was signed to Toy Machine. “It was a huge deal. There was no way around it,” says Steamer, an undisputed legend for her contributions to the sport, over the phone—though, she admits that in spite of the lack of opportunity, being a pro skater was a goal she’d had since she was a little girl.” – Vogue Magazine
Still there if so much farther to go. Though female skaters are now beginning to get sponsorships that include shoe deals and are now included in major competitions, endorsements and competition purses are significantly less for females. Men usually still earn 25 times as much as the women in the skate world.
‘Burnside and Mimi Knoop enlisted the help of lawyer Drew Mearns and formed the Action Sports Alliance. “A lot of people think it [was] about girl power. It was so not like that,” says Knoop, sitting on the edge of an empty pool with her board in the San Fernando Valley. “I just wanted to skate. If I could get a sponsor to pay me, that meant I could skate more and didn’t have to have a job working somewhere else. So, for me, it was about creating that opportunity for other girls.In 2005, the Action Sports Alliance staged a women’s boycott of the X Games until pay and media coverage were improved. A year later, they landed a meeting with John Skipper, then president of ESPN, who agreed he would bring the women’s prize winnings up every year until it was equal to the men’s earnings. “He was true to his word,” says Knoop. In 2008, the women and men’s champions both took home $40,000. “And it’s been equal ever since.”’ – Vogue Magazine
Although women in these sports are beginning to see changes, they are still struggling to pay the bills through skateboarding alone. Many must take on a second job to pursue a career in skate. However, this generation is changing the future so that one day the women in skate may make as much as anyone who is worthy of a pro status.
See some of the amazing photos of women who are changing the face of skateboarding as seen through the lens of
Lacey Baker’s technical prowess and easy style have earned her a place among the best skaters the world—period. “I was the first one to say, ‘This is fucking stupid,’ ” she says of her unprecedentedly honest account of the industry’s gender bias on the Vice-backed feminist video channel, Broadly, in 2015. “For the first time in skateboarding, women [don’t] have to be super feminine to get support. It’s not totally yesterday, but we are getting somewhere.”
From left: Baker, Torres, Knoop, Sablone, and Steamer. “We had to fight every inch,” says Knoop of her peers. “There are probably five or six girls right now who can make a living [as professional skateboarders]; 10 or 15 years ago, there were probably one or two. The big difference between then and now is that the participation numbers in women’s skateboarding are way up.”
Lizzie Armanto (left) and Brighton Zeuner skate a pool in the San Fernando Valley that was spotted on Google Maps. Last year, Zeuner became the youngest person to ever medal at the X Games—she won gold. “You can match skating to your personality—there are no rules!” she says. “It helps me look at the world differently.”
Soto, Sablone, Torres and Mariah Duran bomb a hill in Downtown Los Angeles. “I always tell young women, ‘Find a crew; find good people to skate with,’ ” says Torres. “I think that’s really important.”
Torres, Sablone, and Baker congratulate each other after an especially daring run. “There’s a sense of community and support that I never experienced everbefore in my life,” says Baker. “Skateboarding does all that.”
From left: Samarria Brevard, Duran, Soto, and Zeuner. “Skateboarding teaches you a lot of self-discipline,” says Duran. “You’re your own coach. You’re the only one on your board. No one is going to do it for you.”
Armanto and Zeuner spent the afternoon testing their limits in the pool. “I’ve never had a session where I’ve landed everything,” says Armanto. “If I did, I wasn’t trying that much. In skateboarding, one of the best things you can do is learn how to fall. And a really basic thing that carries over into other aspects of my life is: When you fall, get back up.”
Zeuner (left) and Armanto watch their friends take a turn. “When I see another [woman] do something, skating-wise, it pushes me more,” says Armanto. “In a sense, you can’t be what you can’t see. It’s one less boundary you have to go through.”
Clockwise from left: Cara-Beth Burnside, Armanto, Laura Thornhill, Kim Cespedes, Nicole Hause, Nora Vasconcellos.
At a park in San Francisco. Steamer performs a Madonna.
Check out some of Island Water’s Sports Women changing the face of surfing and skateboarding: