Girls Skate Australia (GSA) is a female skateboarding community that raises the profile of girl skaters, connects skaters across the country, and makes sure that women have a voice in the scene. I chatted to founder of GSA, Esther Godoy to find out why she started the organisation.
Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you come to develop GSA?
I’ve been skateboarding since I was 12 years old – that’s over 17 years. Skateboarding has brought me much enjoyment and countless valuable experiences. GSA was born for a few different reasons, the first being that by 25, I had been around in the skateboarding world for quite some time, and I had seen the ebbs and flows in industry support for women in skateboarding (pending on the tides of the fashion). I noticed how much of a difference having an active community and events directed specifically at women made to not only my own personal experience, but also to the collective experience. It was directly related to how many women were out there skateboarding at any one time.
At the time GSA was born, there was absolutely nothing directed at women in skateboarding in Australia nor was there any media coverage in any of the major publications. You could say the scene was pretty much dead. There were girls skating all over the country but a sense of community certainly was lacking.
Personally I still loved skateboarding, but as I got a bit older it become harder and harder for me to motivate myself to go out and skate. I knew that if I was feeling this way then surely there were others as well. At this point I had just started teaching myself web programming, and I needed a practical project to utilise all the skills I was learning. So I decided to create a ladies skateboarding website. Initially I had just intended it to be a blog type thing, but the further I developed the website the more things I had learned and wanted to start including.
The response to what was happening was so positive that I decided to put a little more energy into it, and extend it out into events and clinics as well. Thus, Girls Skate Australia was born!
GSA is a very vibrant community, and clearly fills a much needed gap. What do you see as the role for GSA in the skateboarding community?
Girls Skate Australia is a collective pushing for equality within the skateboarding community by welcoming and encouraging female skateboarders who are actually the fastest growing demographic in action sports! GSA functions to increase participation of women in skateboarding by: empowering women and increasing confidence through skateboarding clinics and events; creating visibility for women with showcases and media outlets and fostering collaborative experiences, lifelong friendships and a supportive community.
What’s the biggest issue for female skateboarders who want to compete, when it comes to gender stereotypes?
The fact that there are no opportunities for them to participate. GSA runs the only existing professional women’s skateboarding contest in the country.
The argument that they could just compete against the blokes is as old as time itself.
It is important to segregate women’s competitions and to cover them in skateboarding related media for the evolution of the activity and the lifestyle. From the moment females are born they are told that they can’t do certain things, and without role models or examples to draw from it’s really easy to start believing that what you’re being told is true.
Segregating competition creates space for not only the skill level of women skateboarding to increase, but also the number of participants.The more visible women are in the skateboarding community, then the more young girls will feel comfortable enough to get involved and in time the skill gap between males and females will close.
Do I expect the skateboarding community to do anything about this if there is no money to be made? Absolutely not. Do I blame them? Absolutely not. That’s why GSA is here – we’ve taken it into our own hands, we’re here to ensure that the future of women in skateboarding in Australia is a strong one.
What’s been a highlight for you, with GSA?
I love just being a part of it, having an excuse to travel and skate and see my friends.
What’s coming up in 2015 for GSA?
We’ve got our annual ladies skate comp “Daughters of Doom” coming up on June 6th at Slam Factory in NSW!
How can people get involved?
We are ALWAYS looking for skaters who are budding writers, bloggers and social media strategists to contribute content for the website and to help keep the community flourishing. Anyone who’s interested in getting involved and hooking up some work experience can contact us at info@girlsskateaustralia.
You can also check GSA out on their website, and on Facebook. Get skating!
Cover image: Sean Fenning