Why Women Need More Representation In Snow Sports Industry

Greg Obernesser | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Jen Gurecki, Founder of Coalition Snow. Credit: SIA

Women need to be more represented in the snow sports industry. I was recently surfing the web and found a startling statistic. According to Snowsports Industries America, a 2016 data set from the Peterson Institute of International Economics revealed that out of a sampled 22,000 publicly traded companies, 60% had no female board members, 50% had no females in executive positions, and under 5% had a female chief executive. While, the SIA article said that there was no specific data regarding the exact ratio of male to females in the snow industry, it would not be surprising if it represented the cross section from the Peterson’s data series or if it was worse. Snow sports are a male dominated industry.

SIA Infographic. Credit: SIA

Women make up an almost equal share of the snows sports market. According to another Snowsports Industries America poll, in 2017 women made up around 45% of all winter sports participants from ages 6 and up. Broken down by specific sport, women represented 38% of all snowboarders, 40% freestyle skiers, 44% of cross country skiers, and 44% of alpine/downhill skiers. These statistics mean that women are the fastest growing section of participants in the industry. From 2009 to 2017, the total participation rate of women in snow sports increased by 7.2% to 4.7 million total. In simple terms of consumption, 95% of all household spending decisions are made by women and in 2015, $1.8bln was spent on female specific snow gear.

With such a massive share in the market, women in leadership positions can help improve the profitability of companies. Another Peterson study found that women in upper-level jobs (senior management, board member, executive) correlated to a +15% increase in profitability when only looking at profitable companies and a 6% increase in net profits when looking at both profitable and unprofitable companies. Data doesn’t lie, if you are red in the books bring in a woman to help turn the company around!

Donna Carpenter, CEO of Burton Snowboards. Credit: SIA

Because women have such a big slice of the snow sports market, women in higher level marketing positions can help with a company’s image and translate that into higher sales. If 45% of the market is female, you need women to either help approve or create marketing material for other women. Consider the 2017 Billabong incident, the surf titan of a company faced an incredible drop in popularity due to its objectifying ad campaign and most people attributed this to mere cluelessness. Bottom line is that any content should be curated by women for women. Content should seek to celebrate both genders as athletes and not to commoditize one gender over another.

The good news is that the ski industry, I believe, is open to new ideas and can be a pretty liberal. (Some of my friends that ski are borderline hippies!) I also believe more attention now has been brought to this subject, but we still have a long way to go. 


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