By Charlotte Scott
Surprise, bitches. I’m back for more yelling.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock—or in a bunker prepping for the inevitable nuclear end—you’ve noticed women are organizing. On Jan. 7, the Golden Globes marked the grand opening (soft announcement was New Years’ Day) of the Time’s Up Now Movement. Its goals range from shutting down harassment in the workplace to pay equity. Overall in the United States, white women are paid about 80 cents to every man’s dollar; black women, 63 cents; latina women, 54 cents. This trend does not exclude snowboarding. (Source)
At the start of the 2017/18 season, Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails, an invite-only event, informed female invitees they’d only be paying ONE podium spot, compared to the top 3 males. Men’s gold got a whopping $10,000, while Madison Blackley, one of only four women, got the equivalent to the men’s silver, $2,000.
“Even with professional level riders, it’s almost impossible to get a good travel budget to maintain the points needed to advance to bigger contests with these required events all over the world,” Madison said. “This one reason why the women’s circuit of riders really hasn’t changed much in the past five years or so, with the exception of a few.”
At Killington’s 2017 Rails 2 Riches, another invite-only event, the men’s payout was $5,000, while the women’s was only $1,500. This fact was called out female riders on Instagram, and Killington responded with the excuse payout was participation-based. But how can women be faulted for the lack of female participation at an event where the organizers controlled the participation pool? This excuse can also be found in the USASA, Das Tables, Volcom’s PBRJ and more.
Paying women consistently less at small competitions creates a systemic issue of women not being able to, or wanting to, participate. This means their chances at getting to a tier at X-games, US Open, and Dew Tour become significantly smaller.
This isn’t some grand “chicken or the egg” debate. Pay women more (i.e. the same) and more women will show up. There’s no doubt women are catching up to men—if not already there—in competitions. Women are now throwing down just as hard on the same course and in the same—or sometimes worse—conditions. According to trailblazer Barrett Christy, at the 2017 winter Dew Tour, women took their qualifying pipe runs early morning when the pipe rock solid.
And while I’m sure fingers are poised and ready to spew some bullshit talking about how it’s unfair to pay equal, or ladies don’t rip, or this will never work. Let’s talk about events that are successful and are proving #equalpayforequalshred is benefitting the snowboard community. The Burton US Open was one of the first major events to pay men and women equally.
“We are really trying to support the riders and the culture here at the US Open. One of the reasons we love this event is because it has equal pay, equal purse prize, for both men and women,” explains Joey Steger, Director of Field Marketing at Clif Bar. “That’s really important to us here at Clif Bar. So we give equal pay on our awards too.”
This theme is the same in all events at this level. The X Games, Revolution Tour and Dew Tour all pay male and female riders equally. And this has a trickle down effect. Smaller events have also found success in equal pay. Big Sky’s Headwaters Freeride has paid men and women equally since it’s conception.
Blaming your unequal prize purse on participation numbers is archaic and outdated and perpetuates the small numbers. Paying women equally gives them more opportunities to grow in snowboarding, and shows them they have a place in the sport. If your only argument is “women aren’t going as hard,” you clearly are not paying attention.
“There’s always been good girls willing to push it,” Barrett said, “but I’ve never seen so many who could push—and stomp it—as I do now.”