Dear Aussie ski resorts, did you know that women actually ski and board?

As the ski resort marketing went into hyper drive with a 70 to 90 centimeter snow storm over the last few days, you’d be forgiven for thinking the women were at home baking and cleaning and waxing hubby’s skis. Why? Because I sure didn’t see many of them in resort skiing and riding footage and images.

We receive daily images and both raw and edited video content from the resorts offices around the world when a snow storm is in full swing, even more so when that snow storm is the first real blizzard of the season. These are used as PR and marketing collateral by resorts in the hope media will pick up and publish them.

However there was a common theme I noticed in my inbox from June 15 to 17 and it wasn’t the truly epic powder shots so early the season (though there were soooo many good ones), it was the lack of women actually skiing and boarding. Yes there were quality lifestyle images and family shots but I’m talking about actual action skiing and boarding.

A quick calculation and based on actual skiing and riding images and footage sent to me from all five major Australia resorts, a mere 5% would be female. That’s not a clear representation in my book. 

Some resorts, who will for this post remain nameless, actually sent entire media photo and video series intended for press with not one woman in a pair of ski or snowboard boots actually riding the snow. Not waving their hands in the air looking pretty or wandering through snow laden roads on their way to a latte but actually grunting, whooping and cheering in their own snow given right with a lift pass they paid their own money for and skis they carried themselves.

Last I looked women made up over 40% of the skier numbers and over 30% of snowboarding. To not have them represented at all in real time marketing during a snow blizzard when eye ball numbers are high is just insulting.

Yes I’m peeved. I write about the lack of real female representation over and over and over again and yet little changes. God help me if I suddenly get a flood of female only content instead. That is not the point nor how young girls and future female ski industry consumers want to consistently be targeted either. For women’s only ski clinics or women specific ski days, yes, but for enjoying the mountain over a season? No.

Yet it is so ingrained in the cultural psyche. A person came up to me after a screening of Anna and Nat Segal’s Finding the Line ski documentary in Australia recently, a film that has a strong narrative and the best storyline editing in any ski related film that has come out of this country (Will to Fly may be the exception). It’s a film about fear first, siblings second, sisters third and gender comes in and out of it.

He said “that’s the best girls ski film I’ve seen in Australia.”

Really? So I clarified “don’t you mean the best ski film you’ve seen in Australia?”. He thought about it and then said, “yes, actually it is.” 

A ski sales rep has been trying to get me onto the ‘girl ski’ in their range. I asked him what was the difference in ski, he said ‘the graphics’. Cue head into hands.

You get the drift. 

I’m loving the social media coming out of many Aussie ski resorts this season. Thredbo are being super creative with high quality content and Hotham have been leading the Victorian way with beautiful footage but all resorts are not representing in the female department when it comes to actual skiing and boarding. 

Of course I expect a barrage of emails saying “but we don’t have any female ski models they are so hard to find” or “we need to film quickly and our mates ride faster” or “the female ski instructors are booked on lessons and we need to film now” or whatever. It’s all white noise to me, though I do understand the challenges involved. 

One regular snowboard film production team once told me that girls aren’t as good at pushing themselves to which I responded, go find them, seek them out, make them count. Don’t leave it up to them, leave it up to you, ’employ’ an intern with the precise focus to find the chicks to film when you need to film them.

If you had daughters wouldn’t you want them to be empowered or at least be included by brands that you love?

We vote with our wallets and should we choose to be married and should we choose to have children then we’ll make 80% of the household purchasing decisions, including holidays. When we choose not to be either then we make 100% of our own purchase choices. 

We all just want to put ourselves in the picture and imagine ourselves on that powder snow. Men and women. Powder and groomed. 

I’ve made mistakes, misread my own audience, objectified others in a moment of shame, we’re all human. Consider this me just not so gently pointing out something you may not have even noticed yourselves. At the end of the day we all want the same thing, a damn good season with lots of snow. 

As you were. Well, actually, no, not as you were. #showusdagirls (use it)

PS. Someone else also noticed:

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Hey @perisher_resort & @thredboresort , I’ve noticed you’re open for winter, but are your lifts exclusively open for males this season?? How come all your promotional videos are 90% male riders, and women are only seen walking, drinking and high-5ing. The few females that you do actually film are pole planting perfectly down groomed runs and not ripping through trees, slashing powder like the dudes. What type of message is this sending to the our groms? I know there are amazing female riders on your mountain; they are preparing your parks, loading your lifts, and teaching your guests how to shred. So why aren’t you representing them appropriately on social media?? #shredthepatriarchy #showusdagirls

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Last year perisher did make an effort there was a female boarder in a lot of reports and then the segal girls did some stuff for them as well. But yea they could do more and as the father of a tween girl obsessed with skiing they could do more and should bring back the chicks on stix among other things

  2. Fantastic article and I whole heartily agree. I know a ton of women who can ski better than men but they are never represented. Thanks for sticking up for us ?

  3. I’m a bloke and naturally prefer looking at women, especially if they are nailing some powder line or ripping the GS course. However in enjoying the powder shots I did not notice the disparity in representation! Does that make me a misogynist or an undiscovered gay? I’m just so confused.

    This age of outrage and finding gender fault in anything has me really concerned of the environment in which my boys will grow up. Will they feel ashamed for being born a male?

    • It doesn’t make you either at all. Of course you don’t notice because you are represented and visible and it’s always been this way.It’s so ingrained and unconscious. We notice because we’re not represented. It’s not an age of outrage, it’s an age of speaking up, something girls who have been, as you say, “shamed for being born female”, are finally doing. We’d love blokes to speak up for us too and to have your daughters represented alongside your sons.

  4. Great article Rachael. Year after year its the same, its almost like we’re invisible, and as you say women make most of the ski vacation related decisions for their families and book the holidays. There are so many inspirational women skiers and riders that turn heads as they blast past. I feel privileged to be one of those female skiers who is lucky enough to live in the industry and we definitely need to see more of the girls out there having a blast in all their glory.

  5. I’m female and have skied for over 50 years, skied overseas, heli-skied in NZ several times, have been involved in owning a unit in Mt Hotham for 20 years and a member of a ski club for 46 years. Skiing was what brought my husband of 37 years together. I was the only female that could keep up with him on the slope. Something he really appreciated. So it upsets me deeply to read the article above. After putting up with a lot of chauvinistic crap on the slopes over the years I had hoped things would have improved. I don’t understand why this attitude persists when there are so many female skiers out there. My husband & I brought our daughter (now 34) to be a fantastic skier.

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