Women are revolutionising the way we listen

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

While the world of podcasting is a sphere of diversity, openness and opinion where new voices getting heard, in the past it was thought of as a predominantly male domain.

However, following the roaring popularity of shows like Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig, the female podcasters, which were always just as numerous as their male colleagues, are finally getting heard.

Adam Martin, Global Director of Content at the Swedish-based podcasting platform Acast (www.acast.com) comments “the popularity shift from male to female podcasters can be attributed to the fact that the industry as a whole is beginning to pay attention to female hosts, as opposed to the idea that there are simply more femaDivele podcasters. While female hosts have always been a presence in the podcasting sphere, they didn’t get picked up by major stations or networks, which chose to promote male fronted shows instead”.

For example, the Collisions Media List which listed 22 of the Most Influential People in Podcasting featured as many as 20 male hosts, which is the norm for the industry, despite the podcasting space being a diverse and disruptive space.

The growing popularity of female-hosted podcasts, spearheaded by the likes of Acast, Buzzfeed and Radiotopia has become apparent in the last two years. For instance, when Acast has looked at year-on-year Top 30 lists of podcasts hosted on its platform in the UK, the number of female podcasters increased by 200% from last year. The change has also been apparent globally, with the year-on-year numbers increasing by 63%.

“Women are more conditioned to think that no one wants to hear what they have to say”

We speak to the hosts at Toku, a comedy podcast by two journalists who specialise in video games.

1.What made you decide to start a podcast?

We had a lot to say, and we thought maybe people might want to hear us. We also wanted to celebrate the “girly” things we like without it just being about that, so we started it as a space where we can chat about all aspects of our lives, and entertain people along the way.

We’ve covered stuff ranging from video games, which we both love, to a special episode that was just about periods – we tried to aim that one at men and women, and we even got one of our mums to learn something new, which was cool!
Podcasts can be pretty egotistical things, but we were also coming at it from the angle that there weren’t many women like us out there in the podcast world. So, there was a market for that, even if it was only other women like us. Luckily, it worked!

2. What have you learned from your experience – is there any particular advice you would give other women who were interested in podcasting?

Never be afraid to tackle topics. Some of our most popular episodes are the ones in which we aim to talk about something we feel isn’t discussed enough.
Also, to have fun with it! If you’re enjoying recording it, the audience is way more likely to enjoy listening to it.

A lot of podcasts are themed around something, but we haven’t really done that – it’s just our personalities. So, if you feel you have something to say, don’t worry about a theme, or a hook, or anything like that. Just go out there, be yourself, and you might find a gap in the market – an audience who needs your voice. Especially if you’re a woman! You never know, you could be a role model for someone!

3. Do you think women were less likely to start a podcast previously because it was a male-dominated field?

It can be a bit intimidating. And as we said before, it’s quite an egotistical thing. I think women are more conditioned to think that no one wants to hear what they have to say unless they have something very important to tell everyone. But that’s not true – we want more female voices out there, talking about their experiences and issues as a woman if they want to, but more importantly, just making themselves heard. Podcasting is one of the few media where it’s self-selected, so when you see the male-dominated world of films and TV and everything else, this is your chance to equalise it a little bit.

4. This American Life reported that their female hosts are the subject of a lot more complaints (mainly about the sound of their voices) than the men, have you experienced any gendered criticism since you started? How do you cope with that?

We’re not nearly as huge as This American Life, so actually, I don’t think we’ve experienced much at all – though we try quite hard to make sure our podcast is positive, and that we don’t get angry or mean. We hope that encourages similar behaviour in return.

Perhaps with shows like This American Life some people feel like it’s women encroaching on issues. Which is a sad thought. It’s important to have diverse voices in all genres.

5. What are your own favourite female-fronted podcasts?

Serial, The Guilty Feminist, Guys We Fucked. BUT we don’t listen to those last two as much. We both work as journalists and it can be a bit tiring when you have to deal with “Women’s Issues” all day online – like harassment, sexism, representation and so on – to then go and listen to some more. That’s not to say they’re bad, they’re definitely needed – it’s just that it’s not how we like to unwind.

It’s astonishingly difficult to think of female-fronted podcasts! It was nice to see My Dad Wrote A Porno having one woman, though I would have liked to see more, given that the book they’re reading is almost entirely about the female anatomy! Page 7 is also a great laugh if you’re interested in celebrity gossip, and The Read has an awesome female co-host.

As female podcast hosts are coming to the forefront of the industry, here are some fascinating, entertaining and insightful examples of podcasts hosted by women, on all topics from finance, to education, employment and other topics dominating conversation worldwide:

UntitledCtrl Alt Delete
New podcast by Hackney-based podcaster and author Emma Gannon – it’s about life growing up with the Internet. Here you will find conversations with brilliant guests who all have very unique stories to tell. At the heart of every conversation will be how the Internet and social media have changed our lives forever – and the lessons we’ve learned along the way. Plug yourself in and listen to some inspiring conversations about friendship, feminism, #girlbosses, life, blogging, writing, books and more. www.acast.com/ctrlaltdelete

Untitled 2FT Mrs MoneyPenny
This is a new FT podcast with two UK-based female hosts. Mrs Moneypenny, beloved Financial Times columnist, and her editor interview the world’s most successful people in business, media, arts, entertainment, finance, academia and politics. Like Sir David Attenborough, the intrepid duo ventures into their subjects’ natural habitat. In their quest to figure out how this rare species of homo erectus lives and works they corner plutocrats at Davos parties and hitch a ride with America’s most famous living feminist. Fielding irreverent questions about serious FT topics from capitalism to work/life balance, they offer up a fair dollop of sometimes-humorous, but rarely solicited career and management advice along the way. www.acast.com/ft-moneypenny

Here are a couple of examples of podcasts with US-based female hosts:

Untitled 3Joblogues
At a time when women are facing inequality in the workplace, Joblogues is the perfect podcast to answer any career-related question you might have. It offers invaluable advice from professionals from all areas of work, from freelancers, to entrepreneurs, news anchors, PRs, photographers and others. The podcast’s hosts Joymarie and Cortney upload weekly content, discussing everything from networking, to negotiating salaries, to making your voice heard in the workplace. www.acast.com/joblogues

Untitled 4Office Hours
A podcast where a professor talks to her students about what is most important to them – from the ups and downs of college life to popular culture to social activism. Visit Office Hours–for things we don’t talk about in class. www.acast.com/officehours

Untitled 5The Specialist
This podcast is hosted by the charismatic Casey Miner, who is of the firm belief that everyone deserves to tell their story on mic. A fantastic podcast which will provide you with insights into careers and jobs that other people do and that you may never have heard about before or even thought of doing yourself. From working with snakes, to being a telegram singer and even being a specialist zoo chef, this podcast is so addictive it will keep you coming back for more!



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