An Open Letter to the FISE European Series on Equal Pay & Gender Equality
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Inequality of pay between the genders remains a significant issue in professional sport, and skateboarding is no exception. When @suckmytrucks reached out for our support and text editing in their open letter to the FISE World Series asking them to address this issue, there was no hesitation. A TLDR of the key issue: in 2019, the 1st Place prize for the Women’s open was $150, whereas the exact same category and ranking for the Men’s was $3000. This is unacceptable in modern times.
Below is the letter, which can also be found on Suck My Truck's website on https://suckmytrucks.de/equal-pay/.
"This is an open letter to the organisers of the FISE Contest Series.
SUCK MY TRUCKS is Germany’s largest female skateboard contest, with an international field of competitors. Our extensive network is at the forefront of information regarding the female skateboard scene worldwide, which we address on our blog and social media channels. Equality and higher visibility of women in the skateboard scene has been one of our top priorities for over ten years. As such, it makes us sad to see a highly frequented event such as yours coming with a glaringly unequal distribution of prize money between the genders. Whilst bigger event organizers, such as Vans Park Series, SLS, X Games and more, are backing the philosophy of equal pay and are being a good example for other events to follow, your organization remains behind the curve. At the 2008 X Games, the women’s and men’s champions both took home $40,000, and its been equal pay ever since. This is now over ten years ago.
We would like to take a minute and explain to you why your idea of prize money distribution sends the wrong signals and does not contribute to the promotion of the female skateboard scene, instead keeping it artificially small.
If women don’t receive the same amount of prize money, even though they have the same travel and food costs at a contest as men, fewer women can participate. If fewer women participate, less female talent in BMX and skateboarding will be present in the media. If there are fewer women in the media, they will be a less interesting prospect for sponsors, leading to less exposure and less young girls becoming inspired to get into the sport. Eventually, fewer women will enter contests because there is no new generation to follow the present. This will slow the progression of the technical level of female skateboarding and it’s growth in general.
It is a vicious circle of gendered suppression that is alarming in 2020.
In the FISE European Series 2019 Madrid, 1st place in the men’s contest received almost 4 times the prizemoney than 1st place in the women’s contest. For the runners-up, the difference was even greater, and we simply cannot accept this fact.
With due respect, we advise you to pay out to the winners equally, regardless of gender. This would send a strong message of equality to the whole scene and reflect positively on your organisation. As an international body, it is your responsibility to reflect emerging international standards and societal evolution.
We, therefore, urge you to rethink this imbalance.
Kind regards, The SUCK MY TRUCKS Team and Friends ( Special Thanks to ARTEMIS Skate Company for text editing )
The following are a few more voices from respected members of the skateboarding community that want to support our letter and its statement:
Juergen Horrwarth, Pro Skater and Headcoach of the German Olympic Team 'In our modern way of looking at female skateboarding and it’s development from a sports perspective, the 2021 Olympics has established equal distribution of prizemoney for female and male competitors, and the progression has amongst other things excelled rapidly over the last 3 years. It would be great to see you follow.'
Hannah Baumbusch, Skater of the German Olympic Team 'It is motivating to see that the prize money is fairly distributed, something that should be taken for granted.'
Shiran Habekost, Technical Commission World Skate, Skateboard e.V. Hamburg 'Skateboarding is equal to whoever steps or crawls on a skateboard: A difference between sexuality, color, ability or by any is manmade. We stand together, skate together and we win and lose contests together. We don’t see any reason why women don’t get the same prize money as men.'
Katta Sterner, Sweden, Skater, Workshop Instructor, Club Manager, Legend 'Today we change the prize money, tomorrow new girls and women will have one step closer to have the same chance/opportunity as the guys.'
Ewa, Headcoach and Organizer for the Italian Skateboarding Commission 'Achieving gender equality requires is everyone’s responsibility. We need to do it if we want to move forward. There is no progression without equality.'
Julia Kühne, Skater of the German Olympic Team 'For me, it makes no sense to earn less prize money because I am a woman and therefore do not perform as well in this sport as a man. That’s the great thing about skateboarding, there are no divisions!'
Sebastian Barrabas, Germany, Competitive sports referee 'As the Competitive Sports Coordinator of the German Skateboarding Team, I‘m happy that over the last few years, women’s skateboarding has developed rapidly and is continuing to grow. The world’s biggest contests, such as the Olympic Qualification for Tokyo 2021, host women’s and men’s divisions, both performing equally at the highest level. I’m glad to see that equal treatment in a sports environment is a subject that more and more events are taking into concern, both competitively and financially. I advocate equal rights both on and off the field.'"
We hope that the FISE European Series will recognise their responsibility and receive this message positively, actioning it accordingly, resulting in swift and real change.