Women's surfing in Australia

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2007 Surfest started at Merewether Beach

In 1940, a study of 314 women in New Zealand and Australia was done. Most of the women in the study were middle class, conservative, Protestant and white. The study found that 183 participated in sport. The nineteenth most popular sport that these women participated in was surfing, with 2 having played the sport. The sport was tied with cricket, mountaineering, and rowing.[1]

Isabel Letham was one of the early icons of women's surfing in Australia. She inspired several women including Pam Burridge.[2]

During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, women's surfing saw a large expansion in the number of competitors.[3]

Australia has produced several women's world champions including Pam Burridge, Pauline Mencer and Wendy Botha.[4][5]

Pam Burridge was one of the most influential women in Australian surfing to push for equality between the men's and women's parts of the sport. She competed in an era when men and women did not earn comparable prize money. She shocked many in the surfing community by chasing after and successfully surfing big waves, waves women were typically not known to surf.[6]


  1. ^ Stell 1991, p. 75
  2. ^ "She's Game: Women Making Australian Sporting History — Isabel Letham". Womenaustralia.info. Retrieved 2011-12-26. 
  3. ^ Stell 1991, p. 252
  4. ^ Cliff, Paul, ed. (1999). A sporting nation, Celebrating Australia's sporting life. Canberra, Australia: National Library of Australia. p. 73. ISBN 0-642-10704-1. 
  5. ^ Australia's wide world of sports. Pymble, N.S.W.: Angus & Robertson. 1993. p. 20. ISBN 0-207-17485-7. OCLC 38340671. 
  6. ^ Australia's wide world of sports. Pymble, N.S.W.: Angus & Robertson. 1993. p. 25. ISBN 0-207-17485-7. OCLC 38340671.