Written by Jessica Golich
You couldn’t deny it if you tried. We live in a world where patriarchy and other forms of social hierarchy dominate, abuse, exploit, and silence women. The commitment to achieve the equality of sexes within the world of professional sports throughout multiple facets is simultaneously beneficial for society and beneficial for the wellbeing of each athlete. Women are four times more likely to be denied a raise due to their gender. The gender pay gap in the US recently states that highly-qualified female and full-time workers make 79 cents per dollar earned by men, which creates a gender wage gap of 21 percent. Tough to shatter glass ceilings and be the breadwinner when you’re shortchanged and earning a smaller figure.
When it comes to professional skateboarding, the notion of nose grinds and top guns being dominated by the male gender is a socially constructed and bigoted mentality that is stretching from the inside out and making its mark within uncharted and often dismissed territories. Undervaluing the labor of women in comparison to men is bad enough, though failing to value the efforts of women is substantially worse. While the gentlemen’s acrobatic appeal steers their monetary earnings upwards, notable female names in the game are routinely receiving the short end of the stick.
For example, the highly skilled and respected, Leticia Bufonoi, made history in 2015 as the first ever champ of the Street League Skateboarding Women’s SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship. In honor (or so they say) of her celebratory achievement, Leticia received a first place check for $30,000 and a Nikon watch worth $11,000. Off bat, this may be perceived that Nike certainly “landed the trick” and delivered the goods, but in comparison to the $100,000 first place prize and a total series purse exceeding $1 million for the men’s SLS tour in 2015, Leticia’s chunk of change is seemingly insignificant.
Back in December of 2015, pro female skateboarder, Lacey Baker, was interviewed by Vice’s women’s interest channel, Broadly, in which she turned up the heat in the kitchen and exposed the masses to the reality and severity of the pay inequality that she directly encounters.
“I ride Meow boards. I get flow [sponsor support based on free product] from companies. I don’t get paychecks from any of them. I get royalties from my board sales, which is pretty cool. Vans send me shoes but they are never going to go further than that. I have been on Bones [Skateboard Wheels] since I was like 12 and still can’t get a plane ticket or any other type of financial support to skate and travel.” – Lacey Baker, Vice Media
Pay inequality is a routinely set example in the world of professional skateboarding that discourages future female participation and develops a lackluster mentality toward creating further opportunities for future women skateboarders.
Ideations formed and subliminally expressed are creating a non-inclusive social environment that robs skateboarding culture of it’s roots; liberation. Rather than showcasing an example of empowerment, the skateboarding industry is creating many obstacles, practically disregarding the merit behind the female athletes physical, mental and emotional efforts, and solely showcasing an example of women as minorities. The skateboarding industry has created a discouraging exemplification for an aspiring, gazelle-kickin’ girl’s self-esteem to drop down below zero before she can cultivate herself into a hero.
Wouldn’t it make for an exciting next few years for action sports if women didn’t receive a paltry and despicable sum in comparison to their male counterparts? As women earn more prominent roles in finance, business, law, and other markets, the goal is that the world of professional sports will equally compensate both the pioneers and amateurs of professional sports and follow suit.