Historically, the skateboarding scene has been significantly male-dominated. But since the 1960s, women have been paving the way for the next generation of female skaters, showing younger counterparts the confidence that a board can bring.
The best female skateboarders of all time include women who have changed the culture and history of skateboarding, turning it from a male-dominated industry to one that represents anyone and everyone passionate about the sport. Women like Patti McGee and Peggy Oki transformed the world of skateboarding in the 60s and 70s, setting the course for nearly every female to follow.
3 of the Best Female Skaters of All Time
Skateboarding wouldn’t be what it is without some of the female pioneers who fell in love with the sport, regardless of the outcome or fame that followed. They’ve shaken things up across the board, accomplishing feats that others merely dream of.
Where one may see a wall that creates a barrier between her goals and her opportunities, another finds a way to scale it and ride the wave the follows. These women have done just that.
1. Patti McGee
We’ve already mentioned a bit about Patti McGee, but it seems fitting to begin with one of the first women who changed and challenged the world of skateboarding and made a name for herself on the cover of Life Magazine’s May 1965 issue.
The famous color image shows McGee doing a handstand on her skateboard — and a few short weeks later, at a mere 19 years of age, she became the only woman to be featured in an issue of Skateboarder magazine as well.
More recently, McGee was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, the first female to achieve such an honor.
During her career, she became a “demo girl” for Hobie Skateboards, performing 360s and tricks that continue to inspire young female riders today. She truly paved the road for nearly every female skateboarder who would soon admire her strength, determination, and perseverance.
Today, Patti is still as influential as ever and continues, in partnership with her daughter, to design clothes for women who love skateboarding as much as she always has, and we owe a tribute to her for opening the first door.
2. Peggy Oki
Peggy Oki is another name we need to revisit. Remember, we mentioned that Oki was the first female skater to join the Z-boys, joining forces with a male-dominated group without a single care that she was said to “skate like a guy.”
From her perspective, and many others, she skated better — and at that time, that was no small feat.
Like McGee, Oki was a surfer first before falling in love with a different kind of board. Her father purchased her first skateboard at the age of 10, and it was fittingly equipped with Fred-Flinstone rock wheels. When she began skating with the Zephyr (Z-boys) Competition Team, her style was deemed both raw and “gritty”.
While she didn’t grace the skateboarding scene as long as some others, she became a different kind of pioneer in her own right, becoming an advocate and activist for projects that raise awareness about the environmental impact we continually have on the planet.
She’s created two projects, the Origami Whales Project and the Whales and Dolphins Ambassador Program. Both help educate youth about the importance of creating a sustainable future for all of earth’s inhabitants. Her passion, both on and off the board, will be admired for years to come.
3. Cara-Beth Burnside
Cara-Beth Burnside entered the scene a bit later, 1989, to be exact. Burnside displayed her strength and physique on Thrasher magazine’s cover, donning a ponytail and pink — clearly dominating a vertical ramp.
She was not only a professional skateboarder, she merged her career as a pro snowboarder, too — initially to make enough money to continue skating.
She’s won more than 16 titles in various competitions, including gold medals in the first-ever US Olympic snowboard team in 1998 and medals for the SKB Vert from 2003 through 2010 in the X-games.
In large part, it was Burnside who would entice the X-games to host a women’s event, and in 2003, the first X-Games Women’s Vert Event became a reality, ushering in an age where women would be featured as prominently in a skateboarding event as men.
Burnside has said that it is vital for young girls to see other women doing things — regardless of what that “thing” is. Seeing other women on skateboards validated her query that she could do the same.
That was all she needed to become an instrumental figure in the sport and a voice for many of the women, and especially kids, who would soon follow in her footsteps and perhaps in her shoes, as she is also credited as being the first woman to have her own signature skate shoe.
Finally, Burnside has added to her collection of titles and was named one of the world’s “sexiest vegetarians,” which we’d be remiss not to mention, of course.