Since the opening of the first public skateboarding parks in the late 1960s, there has been frequent public opposition to their existence. Although over 10 million people across America report that they like to skateboard regularly, there are only about 500 skate parks across the country. Recently, skateboard activists have started girls skateboard teams in several countries, citing self-confidence and skill development as their goals.
There have always been women involved with the sport of skateboarding: some of the earliest professional skateboarders were women, and current “alternative” sports competitions always include a female division. Girls skateboard in smaller numbers than boys — about 80% of skaters are male — and tend to skate less frequently than their male counterparts.
While skateboarding culture at the amateur level remains more geared toward boys and young adult men, professional female skateboarders continue to earn sponsorships worldwide and are helping to expand the retail market for specialized sportswear. Girls and women who skateboard may be a relatively small market, but with alternative sports competitions generating billions in advertising and retail sales, the potential for growth remains solid.
Most skateboarders are in their early teens; studies show that the peak time to start skateboarding is about 12 or 13. But as the demographic of committed skaters ages, retailers may find that they need to shift their marketing approach. Skateboard decks, wheels, stickers, gear, and repair kits that younger consumers purchase may differ considerably from the image that a skater who is an older professional may wish to project. Most skaters eschew mainstream products, choosing to purchase their gear from specialized or local stores.
With the advent of the internet, there is much more information available to beginning skaters. Skateboarding tricks that used to be considered impossible are now being more widely attempted, and some very young skateboarders (whose parents were skateboarders) are accomplishing an impressive array of difficult tricks. Women and girls committed minority within the sport, and major skateboard retailers are starting to expand what used to be a niche market.