Pro Skater Lacey Baker Talks About The New Women’s Division Street League

The professional skateboarding competition Street League Skateboarding has been a strong force in the skate community since it launched in 2010.  But, it wasn’t until this year in Chicago that it included a full women’s division.

For skaters like Lacey Baker who have been competing for years without the full benefits of the promos, paychecks, or credit of her male counterparts, this change was long overdue. Lauded as one of the best female skaters to date by Thrasher magazine in 2013, Baker said that despite her veteran skater status, she still can’t afford to quit her day job.  Much of that is due to the lack of paid skate opportunities for women, even on her level.

When questioned about the pay and opportunity gap, Baker said it’s frustrating to feel she’s expressing ingratitude when speaking about the continuing inequities.

“A lot of people think we are complaining,” Baker lamented,”You should be grateful to get less than half of what the first place prize is for men.’ At which point I’m like, go fuck yourself. I’m going back to work on Monday to make my living.”

Baker started skating 20 years ago as a tiny girl on a mini-ramp in her backyard alongside her foster brothers. By age 12 she was heading to competitions, but despite skill levels has largely had to fund her own journey.

A full-time graphic designer during the week, Baker said she was mentally prepared to balance a day job ever since she realized the necessity.

“I stayed in school so I could have a job and appreciate skating. It was getting foggy for a bit when skating contests was my only source of income,” said Baker,”There was a lot of pressure to make money and shoot photos, or do stuff where there is not even an opportunity or space for girls to achieve those things in the first place.”

Now that the doors of the skate-world are slowly opening for women, both through the vigilance and solidarity of skilled female skaters, and organizations like Meow Skateboards, Girls Skate Network and Skate Like A Girl, Baker and other skaters like her are hoping to have more consistent chances to survive off their athleticism.

[Broadly]