Women Hosted Podcasts

February 26th, 2013 | by Julie Shapiro

What’s the aural equivalent of a vantage point? From whatever that’s called, from my perch at the Third Coast International Audio Festival, an observation has been increasingly nagging. It’s nothing new, it’s fairly obvious, and it deserves your attention. It is the lack of female hosts in the ever-widening world of podcasts.

photo of Julie Shapiro

Julie Shapiro photo by Kate Joyce

I generally keep up (or try to) with what’s out there in the radio/audio/podcast cosmos, so I’ve been aware that male-hosted podcasts (MHPs) out-number women-hosted podcasts (WHPs), easily. But the actual numbers floored me. According to the widely-used podcast-delivery phone app Stitcher, as of mid-February, 2013, out of the top 100 podcasts in their system, 71 are hosted by men (many by two or three men), 11 are hosted by women (of which three are just 60 seconds long), 9 are co-hosted by a man and woman, and 9 are either NPR or BBC news aggregation podcasts with alternating hosts and reporters, or it’s unclear who hosts. iTunes results were similar.

Though these numbers may not surprise, they should alarm you too. And they point to the disappointing truth: that podcasting – hailed back in 2004 as a “revolutionary” new tool for freedom of expression and endless creative opportunity – quickly copped the same gender stereotypes and realities that traditional broadcasting environments have demonstrated throughout history.

Of course I’m not the only one who’s noticed this, or thinks about it. Nick van der Kolk (Snap Judgement, Love + Radio) posited the question via Facebook back in 2011, and Ashley Milne-Tyte (The Broad Experience) wrote about it last year, just to point to a couple of previous public ponderings. But it is an issue that merits continuous noise, so here’s an attempt to bang on a few more pots and pans about the situation.

I asked two dozen people (half women, half men) in the extended Third Coast community (producers, pub radio decision-makers, podcast hosts) to weigh in on the topic. A little more than half responded. Of those who did, approximately 85% were women. What follows are my own thoughts, combined with observations and opinions from those who responded to my questions. Without getting too investigative, or too scientific, or too statistically inclined, there seem to be a few main factors (and many smaller ones) contributing to the egregious imbalance of MHPs to WHPs.

1. Most popular podcasts are about “guy things”
Beyond the highly successful public radio/public radio-esque podcasts (most of which are hosted by men) the podcasts in the top 100 lists are largely comedy, sports, news, “knowledge”, and tech-related. These are all fields that are traditionally dominated by male hosts and guests, so it’s not surprising that the most successful podcasts in these categories are MHPs. Most of the relatively few podcasts in the top 100 that are hosted by women cover topics that are about “girl things,” such as Grammar Girl, The Splendid Table, and Stuff Mom Never Told You.

2. Podcast Economics
Unless born of already-existing media outlets (i.e. resources with business plans), most start-up podcasts bring in very little (if any) money, yet demand super-human efforts to be produced regularly. Many women who I spoke with mentioned they simply couldn’t afford these terms – and if they could somehow manage not getting paid for tireless devotion to a project, they couldn’t squeeze those hours needed into their already personally and professionally over-burdened days. Hillary Frank (The Longest, Shortest Time) pointed out that by the time they’re experienced enough to understand what producing a top-notch podcast takes, women have often started, or are soon planning to start a family, and this seriously hinders time and energy for any other demanding endeavors – no matter how supportive and helpful one’s partner is. This challenge clearly affects women differently, and more tangibly, than men.

Benjamen Walker (Too Much Information) – one of just three men who responded to my questions – answered in one frank sentence: “Women aren’t stupid enough to slave away on a podcast for no money.”

3. Ego / Entitlement
Objectively: there’s a certain amount of ego that goes along with being a host (of anything). Subjectively: Men seem more comfortable with (and/or entitled to) claiming center stage and asserting knowledge, expertise, wisdom, and opinions, than women. Subjectively: Men are socialized more around technology, electronic equipment, recreational gadgetry, and are therefore more fluent in using these tools to make things like… podcasts. Subjectively: Men are more confident there’s an interested audience out there, eager to hear what they think (or joke) about… anything. Subjectively: Women are more inclined to produce MHPs, or produce non-hosted podcasts, than to insert themselves as hosts. Subjectively: Women are more humble, more cautious, and less aggressive than men about their work, so women often struggle with and are less effective marketers for independent projects. Objectively: In an age where social networking and DIY marketing can systematically decide the success/failure of endeavors big and small, this is a huge liability for WHPs.

Obviously, these three points by no means collectively explain the relative lack of WHPs, but I hope they do begin to unpack some of the factors behind the dynamic.

Interest is Contagious

So now what? Good news: Every single person reading this can do something to support WHPs. One of the biggest hurdles to women being recognized more regularly as successful podcast hosts: most podcast listeners simply don’t know about very many WHPs.

Men tend to loyally follow, support, and share podcasts hosted by men. Women tend to loyally follow, support, and share podcasts hosted by men, too. So these same MHPs end up shaping and defining podcast culture, and listeners’ expectations about what (and who) they’ll hear.

  • Podcast listeners – and especially people in taste/culture-making positions of authority in and beyond the podcasting/radio universe – need to work harder to identify and support WHPs. Interest is contagious, so if you intentionally seek out a couple WHPs and listen to them, and like them, and write positive public reviews, and share and tweet and tag and point… you’ll help attract more listeners to those podcasts, and momentum will build. As more women listen and are inspired to jump in and produce their own podcasts, eventually new WHPs will emerge and everyone will be better off for all of it – men and women, podcasters & listeners alike.
  • Offer encouragement to the women you know who are interested in podcasting, and would benefit from a solid show of support from friends and colleagues. Your help in brainstorming a name, lending an ear, reading a script or contributing a story idea might directly support the launching of a brand new WHP.
  • If YOU are one of the many women who I know are out there and have toyed with the idea of starting a podcast, but have not yet made the move… get busy! There are so many of us waiting to hear your work. And don’t be shy about approaching existing podcast networks with your wares – such as Mule Radio Syndicate or Jesse Thorne’s Maximum Fun. A little bird (pigeon, in fact) told me they’re interested in adding ladies’ podcasts to their rosters.

At the risk of sounding naive, I absolutely believe that widespread efforts along these lines can and will make a difference in the number of WHPs produced and available to all of us. Win, win, win.

Speaking of WHPs

In service of the “interest is contagious” notion, here’s a starter list of WHPs of all stripes, culled from those who responded to my questions. Check them out, share them around, and offer up more suggestions in the comment section. Please!

BTW: Stitcher’s listening

One of the people who I spoke with while researching this essay was Rachel Eaton, Director of Content Partnerships at Stitcher. She mentioned that Stitcher would consider offering a WHP channel, if enough suggestions were brought to their attention. So bring them on, people!

(Note – I haven’t included podcasts for radio shows with women hosts: Third Coast’s Re:sound, Fresh Air, etc., but you might enjoy those as well.)

  • Strangers (Lea Thau) – A storytelling podcast about the places we go, the people we meet, and the people we become
  • Decode DC (Andrea Seabrook) – Deciphering Washington’s language and procedure so you can focus on what matters
  • Life of the Law (various hosts/all women) – A 360 degree view of our legal system
  • Curious City (Jennifer Brandel) – Curious City is a Chicago-based news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy your curiosities.
  • The Broad Experience (Ashley Milne-Tyte) – A conversation about women, the workplace, and success
  • The Longest, Shortest Time (Hillary Frank) – The truth about early motherhood
  • Tiny Spark (Amy Costello) – Igniting debate about the business of doing good
  • DTFD (Julia Barton) – Julia talks about all manner of things, while doing the dishes
  • Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) – Quick and dirty tips for better writing
  • Girl on Guy (Aisha Tyler) – A show about art, culture, booze, comedy, family, physical injuries, psychological bruises, action movies, rock music, ninjas, zombies, failure, success, sacrifice, video games, and blowing shit up.
  • The Other Woman (Ruth Barnes) – The finest place to learn about new music by women across the genres from around the world.
  • Vox Tablet (Sara Ivry)- Ideas, conversations and dispatches from Jewish life
  • Slate’s Double X Gabfest (Noreen Malone, Hanna Rosin, Emily Yoffe) – Slate’s weekly women’s roundtable.
  • Tabled Fables (Amy Kraft and Sophie Bushwick) – A podcast about fairy tales
  • BBC Woman’s Hour – 50+ year old show offering a female perspective on the world
  • Lost Treasures of the Black Heart - (Josie Long) – A comedy podcast dedicated to uncovering obscure facts, unknown gems and remembering unsung heroes


Marina, host of the I Love Lard podcast, maintains a list of WHPs.

If you don’t yet know about the UK-based organization Sound Women, check them out.


While this Sidebar takes up the WHP cause, there are clearly other gaps in podcasting that deserve equal attention. Anyone up for a Diversity in Podcasting Sidebar? Anyone?

Thanks to fellow Third Coasters Gwen Macsai, Katie Mingle and Johanna Zorn for endless conversations about this “around the table,” and the following for contributing thoughts: Julia Barton, Rachel Eaton, Hillary Frank, Shannon Heffernan, Ann Heppermann, Ashley Milne-Tyte, Lu Olkowski, Francesca Panetta, Andrea Seabrook, Lea Thau, Jesse Thorn, Nick van der Kolk, Benjamen Walker, the many others who expressed interest in the subject, and to Transom.org, for providing the forum.

Julie Shapiro is artistic director of the Third Coast International Audio Festival, and has been with the project since its inception in 2000. In previous lives, she worked at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, helped launch Transmissions – an experimental music/film festival, and produced the radio series Storylines Southeast – a survey of seminal literature from the American South. Shapiro often shares her radio perspectives at conferences and with publications around the world, and occasionally produces stories for the public radio airwaves.

[Editor's Note: Thanks for the great comments, conversation and tips on other WHPs. The following is a list of WHPs we learned about through comments on and conversations about this Sidebar. In keeping with Julie's original list, we've only included podcasts that are hosted by women and not where a woman is a co-host.]

Additional WHPs

  • The Hackney Podcast (Francesca Panetta) – Hackney driven fare with an ear on local stories and arty endeavours from Hoxton to Homerton.
  • Destination DIY (Julie Sabatier) – Looks at all the ways people are working with limited resources to create rather than consume the world around them.
  • Audio Smut (Kaitlin Prest and Mitra Kaboli) – An intimate look into people, their bodies and their feelings.
  • Nerdgasm Noire Network – A group of 5 black women sharing their love all things geeky.
  • The JV Club (Janet Varney) – Explores the highs and lows of the terrible teens into adult-lescence.
  • How Was Your Week (Julie Klausner) –  Julie Klausner asks guests how their week was, and listeners also learn stuff and have fun.
  • The Dork Forest (Jackie Kashian) – Dork on Dork dialogue on whatever dorky thing you want to talk about.
  • Top Score (Emily Reese) – is a podcast From Classical MPR where composers talk about their experiences writing for video games.
  • The Manley Woman  (Allison Manley) – The podcast for figure skating fans.
  • The Adviceists (Elisa Markus) – A write-in podcast, where listeners’ plaintive, pleading emails are read and advice of varying quality levels is proffered by a panel of righteous comedians.
  • Put Your Hands Together (Cameron Esposito) – Stand-up comedy recorded at the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles.
  • Token Skeptic (Kylie Sturgess) – Tune in for a slightly more skeptical look at stories in the news, urban legends, good science, pseudoscience, and what makes popular culture pop.
  • Her Next Step (Darlene Carey) – A podcast for women entrepreneurs
  • The High Tea Cast (Sam Sparrow and Lea Rice) – Honest girl-about-town adventure, hot gossip, hilarity, exclusive interviews, a dash of tuneage and most importantly, more tea and cake than you can shake a stick at.
  • Three Geeky Ladies (Elisa Pacelli, Suze´Gilbert, Vicki Stokes) – Technology perspectives from three women.
  • Vegetarian Food For Thought Podcast (Colleen Patrick-Goudreau) – Vegan issues, including food, cooking, nutrition, ethics, animals, family dynamics, food politics, and social psychology.
  • the Uglee Truth (Jaime, Stephanie, Allison and Paula) – Sisters who have ventured into uncharted podcasting territory: “No fear, no filter.”
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class (Deblina Chakraborty and Sarah Dowdey) Didn’t pay attention in history class? Sarah and Deblina have got you covered.
  • I Will Not Return Your Records (Lorrie Edmonds) –  A weekly broadcast and podcast from a musically-obsessive messy living room in Montreal.
  • This Feels Terrible (Erin McGathy) – Comedian Erin McGathy talks love, sex and all matters of heartbreak.
  • The Whorecast (The podcast formerly known as This American Whore) (Siouxsie Q) – Sharing stories, art and voices of American sex workers.
  • Add It Up (Addi Twigg) – A Pittsburgh-based podcast hosted by your BFF.
  • Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend (Alison Rosen) – Writer, comedian and unabashed crappy television fan Alison Rosen shares all the junk in her head in a weekly interview show touching on relationships, pop culture and current events.
  • Reality Cast (Amanda Marcotte) – A podcast that provides news, commentary and analysis on sexual and reproductive health and justice issues.
  • History Chicks (Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider) – Two women. Half the population. Several thousand years of history. About an hour. Go.
  • Godless Bitches (Beth Presswood) – Feminism from a secular perspective.
  • Wham Bam Pow (Cameron Esposito) – An action/sci-fi moviecast.
  • One Bad Mother (Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn) – A comedy podcast about motherhood and how unnatural it sometimes is. “We aren’t all magical vessels!”
  • Science Magazine Podcast (Sarah Crespi and Kerry Klein) – Periodic audiocasts from Science Magazine, the world’s leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.
  • Ladies of Leet (Nicole, Kim, Stephanie) A podcast about  video games of all stripes, from Hardcore to Casual, PC to Console and Expensive to Affordable.
  • Hey You Know It (Jacquetta Szathmari and Katie Kazimir) The podcast that tells you how it is… or how it should be.
  • ABC Gotham (Kathleen Durkin and Kate) Fun weird NYC history, one topic for every letter of the alphabet.
  • Anomaly (Jen and Angela) A feminine perspective on sci fi / fantasy /all things geeky.
  • Sound Women Podcast (Helen Zaltzman and Ruth Barnes) Hears from people doing amazing things on British radio, both on-air and behind the scenes.
  • The Nerdette Podcast (Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnson) A safe space for nerding out about all the things you’re watching, reading, listening to and encountering IRL.
  • Best Mom Products (Rachel Olsen) Where “mompreneurs” share their adventures in business.
  • Lady to Lady (Barbara Gray, Brandie Posey and Tess Barker) Comediennes Barbara, Brandie and Tess pull up a fourth chair each week and talk everything from birth control to burritos.
  • First Person Arts Podcast (Yowei Shaw, Jamie J. Brunson) Celebrates the power of the personal, through hilarious, ridiculous, astounding stories from real life.
  • The Vagina Chronicles (Toinette and Angela) Inspiring women to have a stronger, louder voice within the world.

166 Comments on “Women Hosted Podcasts”

  • Thanks so much for writing this Julie. You’ve brought a lot out into the open, and that’s a start when discussing this whole topic. There’s much food for thought here. The fact is we’re all used to listening to men, so most of us don’t even realize we hear far fewer women host either public radio shows or podcasts (that is as sole hosts, not co-hosts). My local station has many sole male hosts, and only a couple of lone female hosts. And I didn’t even think about it until I started researching my Sarah Lawrence talk back in the fall. Me, who spends a ton of time thinking about women’s contributions to the world. That’s pretty telling.

  • Hi Julie — First, thanks! Second, well said!!

    I don’t have an answer to your question “Where are the women in podcasting?” But, I can offer some history. It comes from Susan Douglas’ book “Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination.” In short, the book is history of radio audiences. And, her chapter on the rise of FM in the 1940s and 50s resonates with and maybe even predicts what you’re writing about.

    Douglas argues that FM rose to be as prominent as it is (or was) because of guys — guys tinkering in their garages and cellars on the hunt for perfect sound. Geeks with soldering guns.

    She writes, “These early FM devotees were usually hi-fi fanatics, a subgroup of electrical tinkerers that emerged in the late 1940s and 1950s. They gave top priority to two things: technical one-upmanship and the richest audio fidelity possible. By January of 1957 — a bit late given the ten-year history of the fad — Time (magazine) sarcastically exclaimed that ‘a new neurosis has been discovered, audiophilia, or the excessive passion for hi-fi sound and equipment.’ Sufferers were usually ‘middle-aged, male, and intelligent, drawn largely from professions requiring highly conscientious performance.'”

    “After the war,” Douglas continues, “some of these men brought imported audio components home, while others bought surplus amplifiers, speakers, and other components. Armed with their recent training, soldering irons, miles of wires, and a host of experimental circuit designs, these men formed the initial core of the hi-fi enthusiasts…”

    “Women began publishing articles such as ‘The High Fidelity Wife, or a Fate Worse than Deaf’ and ‘I Am A Hi-Fi Widow.”

    Of course, Julie, this doesn’t explain the disparity between male and female podcasters. But it does suggest an historical precedent for men being early adopters of new audio technology.

    As a side note, I remember discussing the male-female divide while working with Claire Holman at Blunt Youth Radio Project in the late 90s. We noticed that, while training young people on studio gear, boys would often step-in to help girls with the gear but not necessarily in a helpful manner. Instead, it was a kind-of “I’ll take over for you” manner. Claire and I took special efforts to make sure girls had ample space to use the gear without interference from the boys.

    Thanks again for raising the issue.

    Best, Rob

    (Full disclosure, I’m an MHP — howsound.org.)

    • Rob – thanks for sharing… this definitely makes sense, and seems to feed directly into the dynamic that shapes the WHP/MHP ratio. Plus, I’m now amending my bio to include: Chronic Audiophiliac. Another interesting observation that reminds me of what you and Claire noticed comes from Andrea Seabrook, at the end of her Behind the Scenes interview on the Third Coast site. (I admit, I’ve been thinking about all of this for awhile.)

      TCF: We’ve noticed (unscientifically) that most successful indie podcasts in the extended public radio world are hosted by men. Thoughts?

      AS: I have noticed that too! Many of them are great friends — I’ve worked closely with Roman Mars of 99% Invisible, and others — and they’re doing wonderful, inspiring work. As for the gender gap, I can tell you that throughout my career at NPR, young people came to me for advice on getting into journalism. Twenty-something women would ask, what degree should I get? What’s the next internship for me? They seemed to be looking for some authority to give them the credentials or experience to be a reporter. Young men, on the other hand, would ask how do I start now?

      This one anecdote reveals SO much.

      And by the way – make no mistake, we love your MHP! In fact, I want to take the opportunity to stress that SO many MHPs absolutely deserve the praise and popularity they enjoy. Just want to see more WHPs up there in the limelight with them.

    • I’m really honored to be included in this list. And now I have a bunch of new podcasts to check out! I should point out that my show is a radio show as well as a podcast, though we do occasionally put out podcast-exclusive material :)

  • Henry Casey says:

    The JV Club hosted by Janet Varney at The Nerdist network. http://www.nerdist.com/podcast/the-jv-club/

  • Elizabeth Terry says:

    “How Was Your Week” with Julie Klausner is great. Also there are several podcasts I like that are hosted by teams of both men and women with the women getting at least equal time — such as Slate’s Political and Culture Gabfests, NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, and Professor Blastoff.

    • Thanks for your suggestions, Elizabeth. I’ve heard great things about How Was Your Week, too. (Here’s a link to the iTunes preview page)

      I considered addressing the co-host question more directly, but still found them to be so out-numbered by straight-up MHPs that for the sake of this essay, decided to stick to WHPs. But it’s true, there are some awesome M/F hosting teams out there, in Podcastlandia. And Public Radiolandia, including one of the maybe five podcasts I never miss – On the Media.

  • I often describe myself as a “podcast junkie” and my current count is 36 subscriptions. While I haven’t yet started my own (I used to do one for a nonprofit), it is on my list of personal goals. I do, however, consider myself an expert listener and really appreciate quality in both the technical aspects as well as the content. Recently, I find myself deleting podcasts I thought I would like and saying, “Great, another guy with a microphone.” The emphasis is not so much on gender — I have nothing against guys, and until your post, never really thought about the gender of hosts i listen to. But my comment speaks to the lack of care with which many podcasts are produced. These guys just think all they have to do is turn on a microphone. They don’t mic their guests or pay any attention to levels — that means I either have to strain to hear what’s being said or blast my ears when the host is talking. Many also haven’t a clue about editing — or maybe, they’re just too lazy to care. And then there’s content — I listen to be entertained or to learn something. I’m not at all interested in hearing chatter from either gender, misogyny that is not funny, and ego bluster. In addition to the folks you mention, I admire Krista Tippett, Terri Gross, and the female co-host of Scotland’s Funny Bits. And I’m also inspired by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Ira Glass, Seth Godin, Jonathan Goldstein, Jay Allison and Rob Rosenthal. Your topic is thought provoking. I’ve also always wondered why there aren’t more girl bands. We women have an opportunity to share our knowledge and perspective at a time when women’s voices are being stifled and men (in politics and media) are filling the vacuum with their ideas of what we should be able to do with our own bodies and with our lives. It’s time we took ourselves seriously. With all the problems our nation and our world faces, we do need to step up and give voice to what’s important — not just on women’s issues, but on everything. Thanks for introducing me to new resources, and for the kick in the pants to me and women everywhere.

  • Timely and pertinent as usual, thank you Julie!

    I didn’t really look at the disparity between men and women hosts but the possible reasons behind the gap resonate quite a bit. I’ve personally been sitting on the idea for a podcast for years (sad, but true) and I’ve let a lot of the above reasons derail me. Benjamen Walker’s statement, “Women aren’t stupid enough to slave away on a podcast for no money” is part of it, though if that were truly the case then what are we doing in radio at all?

    Being a woman I don’t propose to know how the guys are feeling but my take is that a lot of us gals are just trying to keep (or get) our heads above water, doing whatever we can to scrape by. And at the risk of sounding completely sexist I think women are more often conditioned to “suck it up” and not get above our raising, so to speak. Even progressive, ballsy women often still have to really work at cheering for ourselves as well as we do others. It probably sounds woo woo but if self-nurturing is not something we do naturally then maybe that’s part of the reason some creative dreams don’t find fuel. Throw in day-to-day obligations, and creative projects born of love and passion continually get pushed to the back burner, or off altogether. There could also be a perfectionist angle too, where we want it to start out shiny and polished versus getting out there and scraping our knees as we go, publicly and at the risk of great embarrassment.

    On a good day I look at a podcast as the perfect platform for talking about things I’m passionate about. On a great day I envision creating something of value that might actually attract a following. On a seriously spectacular day I see some way to monetize the thing. But on an average day I think, wow that would take a hell of a lot of work (and for what?) and I have other responsibilities weighing on me. Won’t even bother to mention the dark days but I will say that it’s an entry to dialog like this (from folks like 3C, Transom, AIR, PRX, etc.) that helps fan the fire some. And even if I never get off my butt and make my own podcast I can still be more conscious of supporting other women in their efforts–so again, thank you!

    • Katie, thanks right back for sharing such honest thoughts – you’ve hit on some ideas that I imagine will resonate deeply with other women (and some men too.) I’m glad if this conversation does help – I think its main goal is to stoke various embers out there – in service of production AND listening…

  • Ann Heppermann says:

    Julie Shapiro. You have been my hero since 2000. I am going to write more later, but I think that there’s more to this than “Ladies, pull yourself up by your bra-straps and grab the mic.” There are some institutional issues at play and sometimes I don’t think people in charge have the self-awareness to realize how they’re perpetuating the MHP norm. I have to get back to work now, but will write more later. Just wanted to shake my fist in solidarity in your direction.

    • Agreed! There’s much more in this mix – Sidebars part 2, 3, 4… Looking forward (on behalf of everyone reading this) to your coming thoughts. And in the meantime, insert the sound of a fist bump, right back.

  • Pedro Rafael Rosado says:

    Pop Tech Jam is a geek-culture podcast hosted by tech author and New York Times columnist J.D. Biersdorfer. http://www.poptechjam.com. She was formerly the host of “Bits: Tech Talk” and “Yo, Jude!” for NYTimes.com

  • And if it’s ok to give shoutouts, Julie Sabatier (and the work she puts into Destination DIY) is inspiring.

  • Jesse Dukes says:

    Julie, did you look into the question of how the percentage of WHPs compares to the overall percentage of women hosting radio programs? Both public radio and commercial? I’m curious if what you learned through Stitcher’s stats says more about women in broadcasting in general, or women in podcasting. I do think, per Hillary Frank’s and Ben Walker’s comments (and to response to Katie Ball’s question), that the degree of unpaid entrepreneurial commitment in podcasting is greater. In radio, one can get a paying job and “climb the ladder” to host, while still maintaining something approaching a normal life. And even that safer approach is damn hard sometimes.

    Also, to your question of other types of diversity less manifest in podcasting, this is just my impression, but podcasting, like public radio, seems to be the province of urban, northern, educated, youngish (24-50), liberal people. I have the impression that among the under-represented, you would find: southerners, rural people, conservatives, deeply religious people, recent immigrants, teenagers, people over 60, working-class (or non-college educated) people. I’m not sure if that under-representation is the result of structural issues or discrimination (since there is such a low bar to getting a podcast up and running), or more due to podcasting being a kind of subculture, and one that appeals to the lifestyle and interests of youngish 24-50), urban, educated folks.

    Oh… and to represent, the Big Shed Podcast was often hosted by the super charming Jennifer Deer from whom I learned a lot about hosting in the moment–on the front porch, after applying to grad school, in the car, etc.

    • Yes! Jen’s an integral part of the Big Shed team & podcast. Thanks for adding this to the mix.

      I definitely started this whole line of thinking with a consideration of women hosts across radio and podcasting, but to be honest – that’s such a larger conversation about systems, distribution, and public media representation – I didn’t feel I had the time and enough knowledge about the larger context, to tackle here. (Talk to me about a Master’s thesis in some unwritten future, and that’s another story.) In this instance, I like the podcast conversation because you can point to some basic metrics, and let them ground the whole dialogue. And like we’ve said, in theory, podcasts can be produced by “anyone” – not just those who’ve worked their way through schooling and into the professional media landscape.

      That said, I know there are a bajillions podcasts not on the Stitcher or iTunes lists, perhaps more numerically favorable for women (and southerners, immigrants, conservatives, teenagers, etc.) hosts. But I’d bet the ratio’s about the same, and my point is that the most popular, most listened to podcasts are mostly MHPs. Actually, WMHPs. And that this dynamic mostly holds true for broadcast realms – both commercial and public. BTW – can’t wait for someone else to do this research and share. Nudge, someone else.

    • Oh there are a ton of conservative and deeply religious podcasts coming out of the south, they just don’t pop up on the same radars as the NPRs and the LA comedy casts do. I do always enjoy the Trucker cast (sarcasm) for that low rumble of the diesel engine in every episode. Lots of Libertarians are taking to podcasting because it fits in with their ethos of self dependence and working outside the “system.” But recent immigrants do seem under represented, of course we forget sometimes that podcasting is a global movement and as I’ve said on my show many times, the most monetarily successful podcast out there is South Korean. Maybe new immigrants have their shows on non-American services?

  • I relate to everything Katie says and I should say that I would never be doing The Broad Experience if I hadn’t been on CUNY’s entrepreneurial journalism program last year. It took an official educational program where we HAD to incubate a media business, and a prod from a professor to make a pilot episode for me to do this. Before, I would never have dreamed of putting myself out there (who the hell was I to think I could host a podcast? etc.) To Jesse’s point, I wrote briefly about female public radio hosts in the blog post linked to in Julie’s piece. At least at my station there are hardly any lone female hosts. And if you think about it, at the big networks in general – co-hosts, yes, but far fewer sole hosts such as Krista Tippett or Terry Gross. The Women’s Media Center just came out with its latest report on which gender does what in the media if anyone would like statistics – they don’t report specifically on public radio, but men dominate talk radio. womensmediacenter.com.

    I suspect Jesse is right on the diversity issue, but having said that I know of a great upcoming podcast called Authentic South, produced by a southerner, and I’ve come across some Christian and religious podcasters as I surf the Web. We just don’t hear about these people so much in our public radio world.

  • Paul says:

    Amy Goodman – Democracy Now! The only podcast that matters, and any other host just would not do. I hear what you’re saying, support what you’re saying, but quality over quantity is important. And, Amy hosts one of the highest quality programs ever disseminated over the air waves. If you’re not subscribed, I would stop tallying the genders of hosts and just listed to the substance of her shows. More concerns are presented on that program than even a 1000 lifetimes could process…

    • Thanks for your input Paul. I have a ton of respect for Amy Goodman/Democracy Now. That said, I don’t agree it’s the *only* podcast that matters – there’s so much important programming out there, across genres. Too, it was a very successful radio show that offers a successful podcast. So it’s not exactly the type of program I’m talking about for this specific observation.(On the pre-existing radio front, there are a handful of popular pcasts alongside Democracy Now – Fresh Air, Being, etc. But only a handful. Sigh. Still worth noting? Absolutely.)

  • Democracy Now is an amazing show but didn’t the show have its start in radio? Are we discussing programs that begin as podcasts, ones that eventually extend to podcasts, or both? Thanks in advance for clarification!

    • Yup, I just responded to Paul about this. To clarify – there are a couple sub-categories that it felt like a rabbit hole to plunge into – co-hosts, public radio shows’ podcasts, etc. For the sake of this conversation, I’m questioning the imbalance in podcasts that originate as podcasts, given the theoretical universal accessibility of the form. But I must say, it’s confusing, because of course the lack of women public radio hosts is a worthy discussion too… (though it’s worth noting that many current, popular NPR hosts are women: Audie Cornish, Melissa Block, Renee Montagne, Michel Martin, Maria Hinojosa, Michele Norris (on leave in 2012, maybe returning?), Rachel Martin… And have people noticed how many amazing women are reporting from conflict zones overseas? But I digress… back to podcasts.

  • Stacy Bond says:

    This is such a great conversation. At Julie’s request, I’m migrating some comments I made on her FB page over to here, so they can be attached to the article itself. I’m the exception to Benjamen Walker’s rule: I’m a woman stupid enough to slave away on a podcast project for no money. And not just any podcast, which would be hard enough, but one that is extremely ambitious, with a complicated narrative structure, and one that takes a good-sized team of high-caliber people to accomplish. I’m exhausted! Which should explain the lack of editing in the comments I’m about to post. Here goes:

    “What about women *produced* podcasts? After trying for years to get funding for this (admittedly ambitious and narratively complicated) show, I’ve spent a year building and training a quality (that part is important) team that can pull it together without relying on any financial support. After much blood, sweat, brainstorming and love, we are finally laying up
    the files for our first three episodes. We haven’t published on the blog much because of the work we’ve been doing on the backend, but that will come soon! And while we will have a male narrator, there are equal men and women personalities on the air, and the editorial team is slightly more female. Anyway, haven’t even read your piece yet, but love that you’ve
    addressed this, and hope to be included on such a list in the near future — even though I’m not the host, just the executive producer and the “auteur” as everyone teases me of being. Our next hurdle will be whether there is any category at third coast our show will fit into! Anyway, thank you for writing this, can’t wait to check it out!”

    “Oh yeah, lol! Here’s the link. There’s a promo at the top of the home page that gives a sense of the show. http://sonicsf.org/

  • Stacy Bond says:

    I do think it would be easier to get some industry support if I were a man. Here’s the other comment I left on Julie’s FB page:

    “Thanks, Julie. I also wonder about the kind of support male producers get in the system — I always feel that if a guy goes off and starts his own production, it’s considered ‘important,’ and the fact that a man is behind it confers that and causes people to perceive that what’s being said should be said. If a woman is starting the show *without* industry men having given their stamp of approval — through funding, evangelism, or participation — it’s assumed that this is ancillary content. As a long-time radio producer, I am making intentional choices with this material, and it’s not just a hobby. But even guy hobby-casts are considered more “needed” than this.

    The other issue is obligatory “diversity,” as it’s perceived by a certain generation of liberals for public radio. I could write a piece all about that, but I’ll only mention the gender related angle here: I think because I’m a woman, I’m expected to be intentionally more ‘diverse.’ My cast was assembled solely based on whose personalities were funny, smart and compelling, and who would work hard and share responsibility for the vision — and yet, I had a potential funder say: “How will people know you’re not just a white yuppie with a vanity project? Why don’t you connect with Mission High School and have those kids make an episode?” (I’m the furthest thing from a yuppie, since I had to become a starving artist to start this show, AND the show is geared toward a certain audience who would NEVER listen to a high school produced program.) But would someone have said that to a man? By casting only the best people, I ended up with a cast of folks WHO KICK ASS. They happen to also be what others might consider “diverse.” But I hate to even type that because that was never the goal, it just happened because the process was organic and I looked for good folks. I think a man wouldn’t be expected to bring everyone under his umbrella just because he had an umbrella int he first place. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but it was the sense I got. I think as a woman, I’m expected to be more inclusive.

    Thanks again for prompting this discussion!”

    • This makes some really interesting points. I’ve mostly only seen support and encouragement from men and women, alike. But I work in other mediums too so those who focus specifically on audio must have much keener insights into this. The only slights I’ve noticed were subject-based more than anything (like dudes thinking girls don’t know rock&roll).

      The subject of diversity is obviously complex, and folks who have an actual crew to drum up have a lot more to consider. Getting a crew that rocks is key and no one I’ve ever met in this field would exclude someone based on ethnicity, sexual preference, etc. (Again I dabble so am I being naive in my limited scope?)

      For a longer term resolution my gut says start with the kids (at which point everyone here says, “well duh”). Give kids from all walks of life the chance to make radio and put in efforts to demystify the process. There are doubtless people doing this (both in the US and beyond) but today’s technology makes it so affordable for kids to make radio/podcasts so it would be awesome if more programs kept coming up.

  • E. Gonzalez says:

    I recommend “Sex Nerd Sandra,” hosted by Sandra Daugherty. She’s smart, articulate and interesting and savvy about her subject. Also, what woman doesn’t want to know more about sex from a positive, intelligent perspective? She does co-host with comedian Dave Ross, but she definitely steers the ship and deserves the credit.

  • Julia Barton says:

    I recently interviewed one of NPR’s founders, Bill Siemering, who early on hired many of the women we still hear on public radio today. And he got a lot of flack for doing that. Some station managers told him that women’s voices were hard to hear on the new FM frequencies. People are always going to come up with a reason why women don’t “sound” right. BECAUSE SEXISM.

    Having done a podcast for a while myself, intentionally with no budget and little production value, I can tell you that it does make one feel vulnerable just to go forth without institutional scaffolding. One worries about being ignored, judged, scorned, etc. But balance that against getting to say what you want, experimenting a little, and learning by mistake, and–with the right schtick–making household chores fun. I do think it’s worth it. You have nothing to lose but some bandwidth and dignity, which is not all that anymore, I’m afraid.

    Furthermore, podcasting is the only way the audio world is going to hear how women really talk and think. We are still wearing corsets on broadcast radio. Someday that may change, and future generations of female producers will benefit from leaving behind our generation’s strangely staid, “good girl” demeanor. But those female voices will find their listeners via podcast first.

    Let me add another link to the list: Kaitlin Prest and company’s “Audio Smut”: http://audiosmut.ca/

  • Ann Heppermann says:

    OK! Off of work and back at home.

    First off, thank you Julie Shapiro for taking on this important discussion. There is so much to write about that it feels overwhelming and daunting all at once. Obviously, the issue is complex with no one answer. What I would like to point out though, is that usually marginalized communities (either due race or gender or anything else that puts you on the sidelines) are often told to “Rally!” “Take charge!” “Just do it!” as if they themselves are the reason for their lack of participation. Yes, that is a part of the puzzle, but change is more effective when it comes from people who are already in positions of power and take conscious action to create change rather than scratch their heads and wonder why they’re surrounded by people who look just like them. You wrote that “interest is contagious.” I would add that “funding is contagious,” too. Those with their hands on the purse strings, the honey jar, the pot o’gold or whatever crappy metaphor I can pull out here need to invest in podcasts hosted by women. They also need to encourage women they see who have potential to be hosts. Years ago, I had a news director who encouraged me to host on the weekends for the local station in Flagstaff. It never dawned on me that I was host material, even for a small regional station, but he saw talent, helped me learn some skills and voila, I was local Weekend Edition host for two years. The lesson here is that sometimes people don’t recognize their own abilities. If you have a savvy enough leader, they should be able to pinpoint talent and help foster it.

    One person I have the highest respect for in radio is NPR’s Doug Mitchell. I don’t have any concrete numbers, but I feel like Doug single-handedly has helped diversify public radio and bring new faces into the fold more than any other person or program. Doug doesn’t wait for talent…he gets out there and finds it. He then encourages and helps shape that talent. Doug recognizes that institutions have the power to affect and change things through their actions and policies. He puts in the institutional legwork to make that happen. If NPR, PRI, AMP, PRX, & member stations muckity mucks are scratching their heads about the lack of women hosts, they need figure out how they can help change the landscape rather than wait for change to happen.

    I also agree with Stacy Bond that women are expected to create certain kinds of shows in order to be taken seriously. Women who create podcasts also have the joy of hearing how what they create doesn’t appeal to a “general audience.” WTF. Last I checked, dudes are into parenting, food and other supposed “womanly” topics. Ladies like tech and drums and cars and manly man things (except for Old Spice, women don’t like Old Spice). I think that the general audience gambit is just an excuse. And don’t get me started about women’s voices not being authoritative enough. You may think those words don’t get thrown around public radio these days, but they still do. I have heard editors and executive producers utter them just this past year.

    ANYWAYS…I need to stop and cuddle up with “The Yellow Wallpaper” for the evening. Thank you Julie Shapiro. You are my hero. Catch me next week on my new podcast, “Bitch, Please.” It’s about tech and cars and drumming…you know women things. Mwah.

    • Jesse Dukes says:

      Just Rss’d “Bitch, Please”. Can’t wait for the first episode.

    • Oh wow, Ann, thanks for such fiery and right-on sentiments. I think regular institutional support for WHPs could change so much. One thing to sadly point out, however, is that Doug M. is no longer at NPR.

      Another point that you raised, that really resonates for me, is that people in positions of authority / cultural influence need to put in extra effort to support WHPs. While writing this article I noticed a post on Boing Boing about “my favorite podcasts of 2012″. All eight of them were hosted by guys. I’m not saying Mr. Boing Boing needed to list a podcast he wasn’t 100% in love with, just because it was hosted by a woman, but I think he owed it to his audience (which includes tons of ladies) to try harder, look/listen deeper, and find a WHP or two – that he truly thought deserved the mention – to include.

      • Ann Heppermann says:

        Oops. Meant to reply here. Doug Mitchell is back at NPR since April 2012. Doug is “working with NPR’s VP for Diversity Keith Woods to create and manage a “Pipeline Project” to identify and bring creative, storytelling public media style journalists to NPR member stations. This project is a step forward from the “next generation radio” program I created and ran from 2000-2008 at NPR. We are focused on finding digital journalists (especially those of color) who wish to be a part of public media from reporting and producing to leadership. Also, I spend a good amount of time understanding work place dynamics and organizational structure within stations.”

  • A No No Mouse says:

    A friend just linked me to a podcast called Nerdgasm Noire Network, which seems to be a talking-heads podcast on all manner of nerdy subjects, hosted by all(?) women of color. I haven’t gotten to listen to much of it yet, but their feed is here, and especially given the under-representation of both women and PoC in nerddom it seems like a relevant addition to your list (which is great, btw– thanks!): http://feeds.feedburner.com/NerdgasmNoireNetwork

  • Ann Heppermann says:

    Never fear! Doug Mitchell is BACK and NPR!!! He is the Consultant Project Manager.

  • Thom P. says:

    I’m curious, do you think it is the host that gives voice and/or vision to a podcast (program) or the producer?

    Andrea Seabrook’s anecdote resonated with me, a man, who has considered getting into podcasting & audio documentary, but don’t think I have enough training. I think mainly because I’ve spent a lot of my life around academics for whom credentials are the union card to a middle class life.

    : “AS: I have noticed that too! Many of them are great friends — I’ve worked closely with Roman Mars of 99% Invisible, and others — and they’re doing wonderful, inspiring work. As for the gender gap, I can tell you that throughout my career at NPR, young people came to me for advice on getting into journalism. Twenty-something women would ask, what degree should I get? What’s the next internship for me? They seemed to be looking for some authority to give them the credentials or experience to be a reporter. Young men, on the other hand, would ask how do I start now?”

    • Thom, it’s a great question. My own opinion is that yes, a strong host can make all the difference for a podcast/show. At Third Coast we hear tons of non-narrated documentaries and they work beautifully (sometimes – it’s a difficult approach to master) as one-off stories. But for an ongoing series, I think a host brings continuity, and adds a little more around the edges for folks to latch on to, and gives listeners a distinct feature to identify with. The host brings the personality, and some entertainment value (which can not be under-estimated.) Plus, over the past years the opens, closings and credits – often delivered by hosts or as extensions of hosts – have become actual content in public radio programs and podcasts – not just housekeeping. (Think TAL’s Torey Malatia gag, Radiolab’s guests reading credits, Roman’s twins’ sage/sublime observations, OTM’s “edited… by Brooke.)

      So those are my thoughts, but I’m very curious to hear what others think…

  • Gabriel says:

    It’s not just podcasts. I have recently been on a conference on the future of German-Russian business. Only male speakers. The first woman speaking was someone commenting on the panel in the afternoon. I think it really has to do with the way of communication. I am pro diversity. I myself as a male have been in school classes and university classes with 90 per cent female students and at this conference I realised that I myself have been more socialized in a female way of talking and thinking. The only way for more diversity is for people from different backgrounds to perceive their opinions as equal as those of the leading figures and publicly expressing their views. It has always been like this. Gender programmes are not going to go very far. You need to speak up, only then you get respected and heard.

  • Doug Mitchell says:

    Hi all. Yes, I’m in the room :)
    Thanks for the big shoutout Ann and yes, I am at NPR doing what I have always done. As Ann so intuitively understood, I’m out finding people and playing talent agent between those who looking and stations that are seeking. And, I’m happy to drop names the folks I have and continue to guide. Ex: Eve Troeh just got hired as the first-ever News Director at WWNO in New Orleans. There are two former “next gen radio” students who are News Directors in public media. Both are women. And, of the 16 Executive Producers I appointed or hired for NPR’s “Intern Edition,” 14 were women. Yes, 14. One of whom you now hear co-hosting “All Things Considered” from NPR. Another co-hosts “Take Two” at KPCC. One reports in Chicago, another has launched a company in Peru, another is a weekend TV anchor in Houston and one is a stringer for the New York Times in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
    Moreover and to the larger point, I started seeing women dominate the applicant pools for internships at NPR, Member stations and on our external student trainings as long as 15 years ago. Women are nearly 55-60 percent of colleges these days. For, African-American and Latino college age women, the percentages are even higher. So, the data suggests one thing but the perceptions don’t match. That makes the next step for me means moving more women and people of color into positions of influence, mid-level AND top level management. It makes no sense to me to have all male leadership teams and even less to have no people of color period, anywhere. It’s that last part where the sell of public media is the most difficult. But, the cause is not lost. The data from the past election and what I’ve just written above says the country has arrived at a point demographers thought wouldn’t come for a couple more decades. Solving this will take a village and here’s what I mean.
    My new year’s resolution for 2012 was to spend more time with the mentees I have and work to have THEM become mentors/guides/shepherds/leaders. I always quote Gil-Scot Heron when making these kind of speeches: “One person can’t do everything, but everybody can do something.”
    Finally, ladies, go get your own gear and make your own art. Then, share it in and especially outside of your circles. Guys do this all the time. You should too…

  • jacquettas says:

    Thanks for posting this article. I ponder these issues with my podcast co-hosts all the time. Being on the “I love lard” list has helped boost our listenership on Hey You Know It, but we are looking for more ways to get ourselves out there.

  • magz hall says:

    I’m very interested in reading this thread and am quite shocked so few women are making podcasts. I produced and presented You Are Hear a experimental music podcast for five years between 2005 and 2010 – its still available to download or listen to – http://feeds.feedburner.com/youarehear
    I think was one of the first people in the UK to podcast live music sessions and performances – it was liberating to do and had a million downloads, it was a labor of love and got some great reviews and it took up most of my time. I found it became a kind of product though and format in the end and I really missed doing a live radio show which is how the podcast started, on a community arts station in London. All the live spontaneity and experimentation was lost in prerecording, so when my son came along I decided it was time to stop doing it as there wasn’t time for my job, my PhD in Radio Art and the podcast. Instead I have been focusing on radio art installations and micro broadcasts and I have to say this has been a lot more rewarding.I’m also not sure I’ll ever have enough time again to do another regular podcast as I have no spare time!

  • Hi Julie,

    Thank you so much for this. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me, after an emotionally draining day in the classroom.

    I teach first-year college students at a school dedicated to training the future media-makers of the world in audio, film, television, etc. In class yesterday my goal was to do a privilege exercise and talk about the Bechdel test during our post-Oscars discussion. If you’re not familiar, the Bechdel test emerged from a line in Allison Bechdel’s “Dykes to Watch out For” comic in 1985. Basically, a fiction movie passes the test if it 1) has at least two women in it with names (2) who talk to each other, 3) about something besides a man. Despite how basic the criteria, very few mainstream Hollywood movies pass this test.

    When I presented this premise to a group of mostly 18 year-old students, the backlash was fierce. I was not fully prepared to confront the hostility from the men nor the internalized sexism from the women. I thought it would be an interesting way for them to get a new perspective on the media worlds that they are soon to enter, but I realized that there is a lot more work to be done. I asked the students why they felt so threatened by the suggestion that we could have more substantial representations of women in the movies. Their message to me in a nutshell was “Patriarchy is normal, why get so worked up about it? Patriarchy is entertaining and we like it the way it is”. They did not use the word patriarchy of course. That is a lesson for another day.

    I was reminded that I probably don’t talk about gender justice enough in my classes, and I’m vowing to change that, as well as a call to reassess my own creative energies and efforts. I’m inspired that you have brought this topic up here, it’s something that runs deep in our systems and starts at a very early age.

    Here’s a great little video describing the Bechdel test FYI:

    • Fereshteh, I’ve been thinking about this message for a few days – your observations are so relevant to the factors contributing to the lack of WHPs, I think. Scarily, so. And doubly scarily so, considering your students are future media makers. Good on you, for being aware, and pledging to address gender justice in your classes more regularly.

      Also – the Bechdel test is kind of amazing – I’ll definitely it in mind when watching films going forward. (And have to admit, was sad to see WALL-E didn’t pass…)

    • Yes, this is an excellent comment. In many ways the backlash against feminism has worked in that sexism has become invisible and normalized while any perceived inequalities between the sexes is blamed on feminism itself. I just saw an article the other day that blamed the bullying of a boy who enjoyed “girl things” such as princesses and the colour pink on the rise of feminism. One of feminism’s main battles is against restrictive gender norms that punish people who don’t fit in the gender binary – not to mention society’s devaluing of anything that is considered feminine.

      Happy to hear that there are still teachers like you.

  • Bob DeGrande says:

    Most of the podcasters I know are women. I am dealing mostly in podcasts based on TV shows, though not female oriented ones specifically. Some examples:

    The Dexrer Cast – about the series Dexter. I am one host, the other three (Thena, Janis, and Rachael) are women, as well as most of our guests and listeners.

    Potentialcast/Redemptioncast – Introcasts for Buffy/Angel, Three of the hosts are women.

    What’s on with Steph and Des – a general TV podcast – both hosts are women.

    The Slayerettes – a Buffy podcast. Both hosts are women.

    Rogue Demon Hunters – a Buffy podcast. Both hosts are women.

    The Other Lost Podcast – about the series Lost. 3 of the four hosts are women

    Nutty Bytes – a geek podcast about awesome things. The host is a woman.

    • Hey Bob, thanks for sharing all of these – I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a TV-centric podcast, which is a great reminder that there are a LOT of pcasts out there beyond the public radio/public radio-ish realm. Can you throw up some links in your post, so folks can check them out? I’m also curious about numbers – do you have a sense for average numbers of subscribers? I wonder how they’ll compare…

  • Joe Germuska says:

    Just one to add to the list: CBC’s Spark http://www.cbc.ca/spark/mobile/touch/index.html
    Yes, it’s a radio program before being a podcast, but it’s a good weekly on tech & culture hosted by Nora Young.

  • Rich Halten says:

    Hey, Julie: Don’t think anybody has mentioned one of your presenters at last year’s TCF: Francesca Panetta, who produces The Hackney Podcast, one of my favs. That chick can sound design better than any Y chromosome-type I can think of.

    • Gah! You’re right. And Francesca was kind enough to contribute some careful thoughts about this whole topic. That’s an oversight on my part (Sorry, Fran!) – the always sound-rich Hackey Podcast should be on everyone’s playlist.

      On that note, I hope to gather all suggestions from everyone’s comments in about a week, and add them to the main list so folks have a comprehensive selection of WHPs at their fingertips. In the meantime, keep them coming…

  • Mike Ceaser says:

    Is this really because podcasting “copped the same gender stereotypes and realities that traditional broadcasting environments have demonstrated throughout history,” when most podcasters do so at home and alone on pure personal initiative? Or is this because men are more into expressing themselves this way, for some reason? (Or, maybe men just have more free time, or use their free time differently.) A long time ago, I observed that the great majority of newspaper letters-to-the-editor are written by men. I now live in South America and have noticed the same thing’s true here. I still keep wondering why, especially since most journalists now seem to be female.


    • Hey Mike, Thanks for chiming in. I don’t think there’s any one answer, but I was trying to point out that despite the accessibility and potential for any/everyone to get involved with podcasting, men have still become the overwhelming authoritative voices in the podcast landscape, as they have largely been in traditional broadcasting. That’s interesting about the letters-to-editors comparison… it’s a similar drive to say “Hey, this is what I think” that so many podcasts exhibit.

      As for the ‘more female journalists’ dynamic (do you by chance have any stats on this? I wonder what the actual numbers are.) I can tell you from our experience over the past 13 years with the Third Coast Conference that there are as many – if not more – women entering and actively engaged in the field of audio storytelling. Which makes the podcast host imbalance even more puzzling, in my opinion, though it’s true that many of the most popular podcasts aren’t “storytelling” productions, but – it turns out – “letter to the editor” type programs.

      • Just a reminder of the Women’s Media Center report I mentioned the other day – their latest report on who does what in the media, gender-wise, is just out http://www.womensmediacenter.com. It has been written about previously – and I notice myself when teaching at Columbia – that a majority of J-school students are now female. And the Women’s Media Center report states that female journalism school students were last year a bit likelier to land a job than guys (interesting). So the question is, will Generation Y women change everything? (something I’ve also talked about on my podcast) or will things fall into the usual pattern as the years go by? Just because more women are doing journalism doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be in top roles 20 years from now, because of all the cultural reasons that are at the root of so much of this to begin with.

  • Alisia says:

    Jackie Kashian’s The Dork Forest is a good one, in my opionion.

  • sierra says:

    hi julie, I’ve been watching this thread for a couple of days – and I’ve found it really inspiring – so thank you! As I just received a very nice rejection letter from third coast- it gives me hope. So, I’m wondering what do we do? Is there a site to focus work, or talk about mics/audio with women? All of the guys I’ve spoken with have been helpful, but…. they do kinda tend to take over…. like “I’ll do it”…. Liz B of wbez was awesome to talk to about mics and audio. Just the different sounds of outside inside, and just all the things you notice only because you have headphones on. I’m sure there is a site for this, right?
    anyway, thank you ~ best

    • Hey Sierra, I’m glad you’re still hopeful despite that letter – we’ve had a lot of very qualified people apply for very few Third Coast openings, in the past couple months, so I hope that nobody who we’ve not hired feels discouraged about their potential in the audio field. As for helpful communities/sites, I think this one, Transom, is about the best source for tech advice, and robust conversations about making, listening, thinking about the radio/audio world. Also, the daily email list from the AIR (Association for Independents in Radio) is invaluable in helping producers find answers to just about any audio question you could think of. (Full disclosure – i’m a Board member of AIR. But I’d absolutely suggest it in any case.) Hope you’ll keep at it, and we’ll hear more from you down the road.

  • Great topic and one well worth discussion. I can speak from experience that when I decided to spin off a podcast from my blog, it was a no-brainer to me to add a female co-host to broaden perspective and draw in a more diverse audience, even as the topic was a traditional “guy issue” — internet viral gems, trends, and memes. We’ve since benefited from adding both female and male guests and really drawing upon a wide range of opinions and listener feedback. Anyway, if that sounds intriguing, here is a link: https://www.facebook.com/FortnightontheInternets

  • mightymur says:

    “And don’t be shy about approaching existing podcast networks with your wares – such as Mule Radio Syndicate or Jesse Thorne’s Maximum Fun. A little bird (pigeon, in fact) told me they’re interested in adding ladies’ podcasts to their rosters.”

    I’ve been producing and hosting podcasts since 2004, and am still very active. I’m not affiliated with any network, so I checked out the above links. Neither of these networks have any information in what they’re looking for aside from “fun” or “awesome,” and the “Pitch a show” link in Mule gives no information except for launching your mail program. They need to better say what they’re looking for, give submission guidelines, etc.

    • But why? I looked on the lack of guidelines as a positive. Typically I would be scared off by guidelines, seeing the endless list of requirements as beyond my reach and giving up without even trying (this is typically female, there is data on women doing this with job descriptions where men will just plow on regardless of how unqualified they are for the job). When there are no guidelines, I think, “What the heck? I’ll try.” And in this case it worked.

  • Hey Julie!

    This topic really is so important and I’m loving the conversation on this page. Ann Hepperman’s points are phenomenal!

    I’ve got a few years of public radio experience but recently I turned down a full time producer job so I can spend more time with my young children. I stay home with two little girls, ages 1 and 3. A little while ago I decided that if I didn’t get some work in my life I wasn’t going to be much to use to them or anyone. So I decided to start a blog. And you know, it should really be a podcast. I love sound, I think so many stories are better told with sound… but I couldn’t pull it off right now.

    I write during the girls’ nap time — that’s 90 minutes in the morning and 90 in the afternoon. It takes me 5 days to write one post. Somedays there is no napping — and there is no writing. On some level this all sound sort of pathetic but honestly it’s been awesome!

    At the risk of sharing too much minutia — here’s a few things I had to do to make it happen:
    1. Buy a desk. When I got the idea to start a project I quickly realized there’s not one single space in my house that is dedicated solely to me. So I spent 50 bucks at Ikea and the little workspace I created is worth a million!
    2. Stop doing dishes and picking up toys. There’s an obvious downside to this but I just make sure none of the clutter gets on my desk!
    3. Repeat the ever important mantra — This is just the beginning. This is just the beginning. There is so much more I want to do and most of the time I want to do it all RIGHT NOW. Restless impatience makes me feel hopeless and from there it’s a quick trip to giving up the whole endeavor. Like I said, the mantra is ever important!

    So hey, I’ve got a whopping TWO posts on my blog. Here’s the link: http://www.melissatownsend.tumblr.com. I’m happily envisioning the day when it’ll will develop into an awesome, sweet-sounding podcast.

    Thanks for the great convo!

  • Valerie Kahler says:

    Gotta mention Emily Reese’s podcast about video game music, Top Score!

    • Ann Heppermann says:

      What Valerie Kahler ISN’T mentioning is that she herself is one badass woman host-ess with the most-ess. One more DOUBLE WOMEN hosted podcast…WQXR’s Operavore with Naomi Lewin and Marilyn Horne. Also Nadia Sirota is a freakin’ badass new music host for Q2.

  • Rob Walch says:

    HI Julie,
    I am the VP of Podcaster relations with Libsyn.com the largest podcasting host and where many of the podcasts you mention above host their files (Aisha Tyler, Grammar Girl, Democracy Now to name a few). I first wrote about this topic back in 2007 for Blogger and Podcaster magazine and then did a follow up post late in 2012. Here is the link to the follow up post which has the original article in it – http://blog.libsyn.com/where-are-all-the-women-at-part-2 – In December we looked at users of libsyn.com and if the primary contact for the account was male or female – we found just 12.5% of our users out of the 10,000 accounts we looked at were female. This is inline with survey’s done back in 2005 and 2007 that I mentioned in my original post. Sadly the percentage of female podcasters did not go up like they did in blogging over the past 8 years. I have felt for a long time one of the things that would really spur great growth on the podcasting side is if there were more content created by females. Hopefully with the iPad and how easy it is now to podcast that might help. But I do not believe it is a content issue – as 51% of bloggers are Female – and they did not have an issue with content. I believe it is more of a time issue – it is easy to be a blogger when you have kids running around screaming – it is harder to do that as a podcaster. As I tell female bloggers if you want to stand out from the crowd Podcasting is how you do it. For every 3,600 female bloggers there is just one female podcaster.

    Rob Walch
    VP Podcaster Relations

    • DJ says:

      What’s With The Drama is a podcast and blog hosted by two women. We have been on Libsyn since January and have been happy with the service. The number of women podcasters compared TP women bloggers is great information. Thank you, DJ @whatswiththedrama.com.

    • Thanks for offering more concrete numbers to this conversation, Rob! They deliver a very sobering reality check to the “feeling” I think a lot of us have, as did that Stitcher top 100 count. Let’s hope that part 3 down the road reveals a stunning reversal in the downward trend of WHPs. In the meantime – does Libsyn do anything to reach out specifically to women podcasters? I’m not even sure what that might look like, but many people have suggested (and I agree) that support from institutions/organizations level could make a tangible difference in pulling more women into the podcast kingdom… but maybe you’ve already tried?

  • Kris Markman says:

    Hi Julie,
    I came across this post through Twitter. I’m a (female) academic who studies independent podcasting (podcasts not associated with traditional media orgs). I just wanted to add that your impressions are backed up by my research, and the few other studies that are out there. In two surveys of independent podcasters, one in 2008/9 and a follow-up in 2012, the vast majority of my respondents were male, more than 80%. An international study of podcasters conducted in Germany in 2007 found 86.2% were male, and a study of educational podcasters in 2009 found 69% were male. And many of these are looking at podcasts way out at the end of the long tail, not just the most popular podcasts. So for whatever reasons, the available data so far shows that women are by and large not choosing to podcast.

    I don’t have any good ideas as to why this is, but it does seem part of a larger trend. In addition to the work of Susan Douglas on early radio enthusiasts that was mentioned by an earlier commenter, research on fandom has shown that men are more likely to produce fan films, while women are more likely to write fan fiction. My own personal experience being involved in audio drama over the last 15+ years has found that area to be similarly male-dominated. I can’t even count how many times I have been the only woman in the room.

    There are probably a lot of socialization issues at work here, but teasing them out is hard work. In my own research I am looking at what motivates independent podcasters, but because the sample of women in my study is so small, I can’t make any statistical comparisons along gender lines.

    • Hey Kris, Thanks for chiming in with further numbers-validation. More fuel for the fire / inspiration for women aware of this dialogue to explore (and then out) their inner podcasters… Perhaps you’ll find more women to interview throughout these threads? Good luck with your research…

  • I’ve been hosting my podcast for 6 years at http://www.manleywoman.com. But you have to love figure skating to love my podcast. :)

  • I get grumpy when weeks pass by without a new DTFD. Julia has such a great understanding of the medium. I aspire to sound as smartly nonchalant as she does.

    And yes, a WHP might help to encourage other women to podcast– including my friend and colleague Carol Hills. She really should turn her fantastic Global Cartoons project into a podcast (she occasionally appears on my podcast as “Cartoon Queen Carol.”)

  • DJ says:

    What’s With the Drama is a blog and podcast hosted by two women about some of the unnecessary dramas in every day life at http://www.whatswiththedrama.com. Our first show went up just a few months ago, and we are starting to build an audience. We laugh about and talk seriously about all manner of things… from taking a leap of faith to leave our longterm profesional careers, what it means to give and receive a sincere apology, memories of being bullied, presidential politics, and taking care of our children. It is a lot of work, but we love it, and as you intimated, if we did not have the technical assistance of my husband it would have been much more difficult to get started. Thank you for this informative and encouraging article.

  • Just a short note from 12:20 am in Columbia, MO, where I’ll spend the next few days at the True/False Film Festival ( http://www.truefalse.org ) watching a crazy-wide range of documentary films (of course thinking about their use of sound), and not being able to follow this conversation as closely as I’d like. I’ve been so thrilled with the response to the essay, and mostly with all of the suggestions of podcasts I’d never heard of – I look forward to checking out every single suggestion. (After this weekend.) In the meantime – we’ll be rounding up links from comments (thanks for the help, Sam) and adding them to the list in the article, so they’re all in one place. So keep them coming, please, and thanks so much for all of the thoughtful and revealing comments.

  • Marina says:

    So much for my “I Love Lard” Google alert!

    I actively maintain my WIP list, periodically going out to find shows when they don’t come to me (commenters, I’ll be looking for those of you who I don’t already have). I view it as an archival service in the name of history. A lot of male podcasters are starting to get mainstream recognition for their efforts, and that’s awesome, but I want the WIP list to stand as a testament that we were here too.

    • Wonderful that you’ll add WHPs that you learn about here. The more lists out there, the better… and thanks for having already committed to helping raise the visibility (audiability?) of WHPS.

  • Ed Frink says:

    As far as I’m concerned, there should be a freeze on male-hosted podcasts until women-hosted pocasts are on par 50% with the male ones.

    It’s the only way to achieve fairness.

  • Thank you for writing this piece. With so many women working IN radio, and yet not heard ON the radio, you’ve hit upon a critical issue. I have been enjoying the in-person and online conversations that have come out of your article as well.

    However, when I read that Stitcher would consider offering a Women Hosted Podcast channel, I shuddered. Yes, it would aspire to raise awareness and listenership of these shows, but to create such a “ladies only” channel risks ghettoizing the very radio and individuals it aims to promote.

    Back in college, while digging around the campus radio station archives, I came upon a cassette with the title “women’s music” scrawled across it in black marker. The term felt as out-dated as the cassette tape I was holding. It told me nothing about the content or style of the music. The categorization offered only one arbitrary detail about its maker, and a hint that the song might be about “women things” (whatever that means). The “women’s” genre classification also implied that women had a special, separate place in the music library, and that, therefore, the other genres were the purview of men.

    The women hosted podcasts mentioned in the Transom.org feature span from international investigations to beltway politics to law to storytelling and more. To put them together on a Women Hosted Podcasts Channel would imply that their most notable and unifying trait is that they are by women, rather than the unique content each one offers. Just because a podcast is BY a woman doesn’t mean it’s ABOUT women. Fencing these shows off would be a disservice to both the listeners and producers, and would result in a disjointed channel (that could alienate a male audience—the majority audience of podcasts according to the article and comments).

    I strongly support the other points of the article about ways to promote current and new radio work from women–both in podcasts and on the air. (In fact, I write as someone who wants to work on several of those strategies to elevate the quality and reach of my own work.)

    Related to those suggestions, let’s:

    -Cross-promote shows.
    -Make plugs for little-heard programs on different Stitcher channels.
    -Book more female guests/experts on shows (this would also help normalize “authoritative voices” coming from women, and lend space to rising talent).
    -Give young girls recording equipment to play with to close the gadget gap.
    -Offer workshops and best practices for marketing and monetizing podcasts (everyone could benefit from that).
    -Learn to promote ourselves and each other. (For instance, participating in a public speaking course and networking events has highly influenced the way I present myself and my work. Such activities have also connected me with new ideas and people.)
    -Write more excellent articles like Julie Shapiro’s to keep the conversation going.

    • Sydney, thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I get your aversion to the Stitcher channel, and agree with you to some extent that it’s counter-productive to group all WHPs together and promote them solely as WHPs. Over the years we’ve been asked over and over at Third Coast about adding a “sound art” award, and we’ve resisted for the very reasons you’ve discussed – besides our Best News Feature and Best New Artist awards, we aim to reward the BEST STORIES with the Best Documentary Awards. And over the years some stand-out extremely artful docs have won major awards, without needing the “art” category. (Besides, once we added sound art, then people would ask for music docs, historical docs, etc. Slippery slope.)

      But I think the situation’s a little bit different with the WHPs because I think what’s so important is effort on listeners’ parts to identify WHPs and share them around when they strike a chord. I wouldn’t want Stitcher to only list the WHPs on this channel, but if they can do this in addition to having them flow through their regular stream, I think it would be helpful for those looking so intentionally support WHPs. Plus, given the wide range of topics (ice-skating! video game theme music! etc.) I think seeing them all in one place would go far in demonstrating that besides many excellent pcasts discusing women’s issues, WHPs cover all sorts of topics.

      Rachel also mentioned that the logarithms that dictate the “if you liked that, you’ll like this” suggestions are very effective in turning listeners on to new podcasts, so if there are more WHPs in the mix, chances are better they’ll come up in those rotations.

      Thanks again for your words…

  • spinn says:

    Given the crazy-low barriers to entry for podcasting as opposed to traditional media, don’t we have to ask whether podcasting is just something that women are not as interested in? Speaking mostly to your #3 point, in fact. So I start to think it’s not something to be shocked about, just an illustrative difference between the sexes.

    I think the question of men-dominated podcasts being more /popular/ is probably closer to the point that one should be concerned about, and one that has more roots in societal perception, money, etc. But I do wonder how many total podcasts by women are really out there, when you include the unknowable everything. Just checking itunes lists for existing podcats really doesn’t answer the question of how many women are in podcasting.

    • Thanks for weighing in… I’ll respectfully agree to disagree with you on this one! I’m confident that women are just as interested in expressing themselves and sharing their views on the world as men are, and would like to do this via podcasting as much as every other medium – print, blogging, filmmaking, etc. And after reading so much response to this article, I’m so pleased to learn that many more women than I realized already are podcasting, and countless others would like to be. That said, the additional research sited in these comments (by others) has confirmed that the Stitcher count pretty faithfully reflects the bigger picture of the wider podcasting landscape. So while there are clearly women out there making/hosting podcasts, the numbers are still pretty dismal.

      But I DO agree with you that the fact that the most popular podcasts are majority (by a landslide) MHP is problematic. Is discouraging, irritating, and a powerful contributing factor to the lack of momentum felt by the WHP community (and potential members of this group) at large.

      • Spinn --- says:

        “I’m confident that women are just as interested in expressing themselves and sharing their views on the world as men are, and would like to do this via podcasting as much as every other medium – print, blogging, filmmaking, etc.”

        Well, given the barrier to entry to women expressing themselves is “get a pen” or “open mouth and make words”, I don’t think this is relevant to what I said. If it was straight up a question of “just as many women want to podcast”, then really, there are no gender barriers preventing them. (except if you want to argue indirect ones, like lower salaries making it more difficult to buy hardware, but yeah.) I just doubt there’s much, if any, direct “darn it I’d love to start a podcast but I’m just a girl” barrier, really. A podcast is just computer access + microphone + time, and I don’t really see any gender barriers to walking into Best Buy and buying a microphone. These days you couldn’t even site education barriers, since there’s the ‘net and scads of tutorials.

        Though, having said all that, on a second think, I have to step back my original view somewhat. I still say, aside from other factors like poverty etc., the only thing preventing more women podcasters is their own desire. But it occurred that there might not be as much desire, given the field is generally popularly male-dominated, and that might color one’s ideas as to what one is interested in.

        So, yeah, I’m still with my original point, though not as strongly.

  • Thanks so much for this article. I would add the podcast, Missed in History, which is one of my favs (@missedinhistory). Also, I just launched a podcast with a friend called Undivided FM. (First episode posted at Undivided.fm – Soon to be added to iTunes and Stitcher.)

  • Elisa Markus says:

    Very happy to read this article! Lots of great food for thought. As long as x you’re adding to your list of WHP’s, you can add mine : The Adviceists with Elisa Markus. It’s one parts advice show, one-part improv comedy show. Listeners write in their relationship, etiquette, or existential problems (or otherwise) to theadviceists@gmail.com and we dissect your problems and provide comic relief. It’s on iTunes (just search “the adviceists”) and on Soundcloud. Thanks again!

  • Rachel says:

    We do listen! Here is Stitcher’s “Women Hosted Podcasts” station: http://app.stitcher.com/browse/1/1168518
    We hope to grow it as we go. If anyone hosts a show that they would like to add to this station, please contact me (rachel@stitcher.com). We look forward to hearing from more women and to promoting this station and your shows as much as possible. We need to hear from more of the females with voices!

    • Rachel, what a collection! I think it’s really fabulous that Stitcher’s aware of this issue, and is willing (actively) to help change it. I don’t pretend to understand the science behind the algorithms that guide recommendations, but am so pleased to think that with more WHPs on Stitcher, more listeners will find out about them… THANK you, for listening.

  • S-JY says:

    Stand-up comic Cameron Esposito, who has been on “Bullseye” with Jesse Thorn as well as part of Jesse et al’s MaxFunCon lineup, hosts a stand-up showcase called “Put Your Hands Together”:


    And before she moved from Chicago to LA, she hosted one called “Standup Mixtape”:


    She’s an exuberant and supportive host, and each episode includes some of her own material, which is exuberant and hilarious.

    Here’s a good interview with her as well:

  • Just did a podcast panel on Black People in podcasting here: http://www.podcastsquared.com/2013/02/28/podcast-squared-162-black-podcasters-panel/
    Already have another on WHP for this month. Would love to talk about diversity in podcasting all day long

  • G’day!

    An Australian here, who has recently had her (solo, own production) podcast called Token Skeptic recognised with another women’s show in the finals for the Ockham Awards: http://www.skeptic.org.uk/64-published/703-shortlist-for-the-ockhams-2013

    I’d like to suggest that the lack of podcasting awards in general; difficulty in getting reviews for shows; the need for podcasts to be featured at conferences (live shows?) where they contribute to the field they focus in; the growth of commercial podcasts that overshadow independent podcasters and social networking are factors in women going “under the radar”, as it were.

    If it wasn’t for a coincidental “bump” on Twitter where I found Ashley Milne-Tyte, I wouldn’t even know about this post – because after contributing and creating 200+ podcast and vodcast episodes, I only began formally learning about radio over the past year or so (I’m now doing full time study). In doing so, I realised how radio shows have now taken over podcasting and how independent shows really aren’t given much attention or even respect by the industry? At least that’s my take on it.

    My own experience of podcasting does stem from being inspired by strong long-term podcasting women like Mur Lafferty (who has already commented on this post), Dr Pamela Gay, Swoopy of Skepticality and Soccergirl. Many of them still podcast, some have podfaded, but their influence remains. Mostly due to the Podcasting Track at Dragon*Con, Atlanta, where talks by podcasters are well-attended and then posted online (I attended for four years and kept every recorded panel episode on my computer). Resources like this are also invaluable and provide inspiration when it seems easier to just give up.

    However, all of those women I mentioned above are American. I’m Australian. And the other show that is being featured in the Ockham Awards is an Irish show hosted by two Irish women (The Skeprechauns). A lot of the shows listed are US or UK, so reaching out to other countries is important. Funnily enough, for both of our shows, you’d probably find we have more USA listeners than those from our own countries!

    It would be great to network further and learn more about improving shows, so thank you for making this effort to raise awareness.

    • Hi Kylie, Thanks for chiming in antipodally! Your perspective about the lack of podcasting awards contributing to WHPs being under-recognized interests me. In the past we considered giving a podcast award along with the other Third Coast awards, but when we consulted with podcast producers, they nearly unanimously wanted their work to be considered along with the other entries, for “best documentary” awards. It would be interesting to revisit the question now (four years later, I think) to see if the sentiment has changed at all. But I also wonder if producers of storytelling podcasts identify more with “radio” programs, than interview/conversation-based podcasts, and so this partly influenced their opinions of preferring to be judged among the radio entries?

      In any case, glad to know about about more internationally-produced pcasts. And congrats on episode ONE FIFTY SIX of Token Skeptic – we’ll get you added to the list soon.

  • Ian McDonald says:

    The (admittedly niche) world of vegan podcasts is roughly 50/50 male/female.

    Looking at shows on VeganFeed.com that have been updated in the last six months, I count 7 with male hosts, 6 with mixed, 2 with no regular hosts, and 7 with all female hosts:

    Our Hen House (hosted by a law professor and her wife)
    Main Street Vegan (hosted by a mother and daughter)
    Red Radio
    Vegetarian Food for Thought – hosted by a vegan celebrity chef
    All Things Vegan Radio – from an Oregon community station
    Veganacious and
    NZ Vegan Podcast – activists in Texas and New Zealand, respectively

    My own show is in transition from mixed to male – because my co-host stepped back. I suspect I haven’t confirmed this, but I suspect that she would agree with Benjamin Walker’s sentiments.

    • Hey Ian – admittedly niche, yes, but I’m sure enormously appreciated by listeners. (And glad to know of these, myself.) And it’s fascinating that veganism draws out a much more equal M/F ratio of pcast hosts… though in some ways, makes sense? I don’t feel prepared to make a case for why, but somehow it seems reasonable. I wonder which other topics (beyond women-centric issues) reflect the same dynamic?

  • Darlene Cary says:

    Julie – I recently attended a meetup that included a well-known podcasting online teacher who has made his fortune with podcasting. I asked him about the podcasting gender gap and he gave me a blank look. Even the meetup room was 90% male.
    I produce and host a podcast for women entrepreneurs called Her Next Step (http://hernextstep.com and on iTunes). I interview women who can offer valuable advice to other women on their business journey. Thanks for this valuable article!

  • Sam Sparrow says:

    As a female podcaster and local radio DJ I am so glad attention is given to this issue – we’ve had a huge response to our UK based, female hosted, female lifestyle podcast which many have told us is a breath of fresh air. How can we help and support more people to make the audio journey? We’ve given a number of workshops and talks to female bloggers who miht want to make the move but there is fear amongst the community!

    • Hey Sam, First – here’s a link to HighTeaCast, for everyone else – we’ll add it to the list soon. As for ‘how to draw more people in’ question – you’re definitely doing your part by giving workshops and talks to lady bloggers, and encouraging them/offering support in thinking about dipping toes in audio production. I do think making the effort to encourage and teach basic skills is invaluable. Keep on keeping on with that… and I’m guessing you’ll literally hear some results sooner or later.

  • This thread has been so inspiring! I’ve been bookmarking shows like a madwoman. To touch on Sam’s question, just talking about the gap is a big step. Collecting and organizing lists of shows like Stitcher and I Love Lard do is also a great service (Two more entities that I knew nothing about before reading this thread). Add to the mix a new understanding that there’s actually a need and desire for more female hosts, and I hope others (who haven’t stepped into the waters) will feel as encouraged as I do now. Not that we’ll nec make any coin but that we’re not alone in it. Still, we’re a radiocentric group–how do we bring others in like Sam asked? I still think demystifying the process to non-radiomakers can help a lot–and also finding where these women are–both the ones with something to say and those hungry for new female-hosted content. Found this article that kind of surprised me…

    I figured the gap between male and female podcast listeners would be much greater.

  • Hi Julie-
    My podcast isn’t in the Top 100 of any chart, but I’d like to mention it here if you don’t mind. It’s called “3 Geeky Ladies”, and I co-host it with Suze´Gilbert and Vicki Stokes. Our tagline is “technology from a female perspective”. It can be found at http://www.threegeekyladies.com/
    A brief history: I was TIRED of hearing male podcasters and bloggers/writers say things like, “…the iPad is so easy to use even your mother or grandmother can figure it out.” I know they didn’t mean to be insulting, but it really irritated me that they assumed an older female was a technology illiterate. Eventually I was angry enough to contact Suze´and Vicki about recording our own podcast.
    And, as they say, the rest is history. Episode 22 was released today.
    Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention!

  • Clare McGinn says:

    Hi Julie. There is definitely something in the ether. Check out the fabulous Sound Women group http://www.soundwomen.co.uk/ which was set up in the UK by Maria Williams and is addressing this very issue in the UK audio industry too.

  • Ugleetruth says:

    As a matter of fact, my sister and I, two very strong, smart and funny women, have just started a podcast, partly to try and get women out into the podcast world. Check us out on iTunes, Sticher, Facebook and Twitter.

  • Clare McGinn says:

    http://www.bristolkitchenradio.com. from Bristol UK . lovely slices of Bristol life made for pleasure by Ellen Hughes and Victoria Stevens respectively an oral historian and a film editor. Not the kitchen sisters but intriguing.

  • Jay Allison says:

    Julie, thanks so much for coming to Transom and moderating this discussion so well. It’s one our most active conversations. Forgive me if you’ve addressed this, but from your vantage point, do you feel there is difference between women’s presence in podcasting vs. public media, and if so, why? Do you find that women are less in evidence at Third Coast? It seems most of the AIR projects are produced by women, and at Transom we have more shows from women, especially recently and in the workshops. Do you think things might be trending?

    • Hi Jay, thanks right back for providing this forum / platform for all sorts of opinions to get shared. I think it gets complicated, when comparing podcasting with public media, and trying to parse producing/working “within” either, and the actual hosting of shows. And where do podcasts of radio shows figure in the picture? Etc.

      Or maybe it’s not that complicated – my sense is that there ARE comparatively more women working in public media as producers, journalists, (some) top administrators, and… sometimes hosts, than involved in podcasting (that 12% women podcasters statistic from the study that was cited in an earlier comment looms large for me.) But the field still seems (or SOUNDS) fairly imbalanced when you consider the most listened to public radio shows are nearly all male-hosted – just like in podcasting. I know some of you are thinking “What about Terry Gross and Brooke Gladstone?” Unfortunately, these amazing women do not balance the gender ratio for public radio hosts. (I don’t feel comfortable discussing public TV, having very little familiarity (more like none) with its programs and personalities.)

      That said, NPR’s daily shows (Morning Edition, All Things Considered, the Weekend Editions) seem fairly balanced in terms of hosts, though I’d welcome anyone who has a firmer grasp on actual numbers to inform me otherwise. (In an earlier comment I listed a bunch of NPR daytime hostesses, and referenced some of the excellent lady reporters doing amazing work in this country and in some of the most dangerous regions overseas.) But I don’t know if that balance exists locally for member station hosts, and suspect it doesn’t. I’d also be very interested to know the host breakdown at community stations…

      As you’ve seen up close with Transom, and observed with AIR, the Third Coast audience/community seems equally if not majority-populated by women. A few interesting tidbits – of the 12 Best New Artist Awards we’ve presented over the years – 11 have gone to women. ELEVEN! And at each Conference I’d say 90% of our volunteer brigade are women, and at least half of the attendees are women – but it’s often more than half. So I’d like to think there’s a trend toward women becoming as prominent/populated as men in the field, but it may depend on how success is measured in this regard. If it’s the number of women across the field in various positions, the imbalance seems to be slowly reaching an equilibrium. If it’s the number of women in top management positions at public media organizations, I’m not so sure. And if it’s in the voices we’re hearing as hosts of the most listened-to pub media programs, still seems like there’s a long way to go.

      P.S. One last tidbit – we definitely sell more Third Coast tshirts to men. But we try not to read too much into that one, honest.

  • For those of you interested, Julie and I continued this discussion on my podcast, Podcast Squared and talked about how important institutional support from people like Stitcher and iTunes is. Here’s the link to the episode : http://www.podcastsquared.com/?p=769

  • Kerry Klein says:

    Thanks for putting this together, Julie! There’s also the Science Podcast ( http://www.sciencemag.org/site/multimedia/podcast/index.xhtml ). We’ve got a rolling cast of interviewers and subs, but it’s generally hosted and produced by Sarah Crespi and myself (AIR member).

  • Thanks so much for including our brand new podcast, the Uglee Truth, in your article. It’s an honor to be mentioned and we hope your readers check us out… we’re already up to Episode 10!

  • Great thread. Here are some of my favorite WHPs which I haven’t seen mentioned:

    Ladies of Leet – ladiesofleet.com
    Hey You Know It – heyyouknowit.podbean.com

  • Me too me too! My best friend Kate and I host ABC Gotham, a podcast about weird New York City history. We have one topic for every letter of the alphabet. We’ll be recording Episode X soon and plan to do the whole alphabet again once we hit Z! http://abcgotham.podbean.com/

  • karinakacala says:

    First Person Arts, a Philadelphia non-profit, is trying to start a new WHP that is also woman produced, by Yowei Shaw. We’re trying to launch season 1 (52 episodes) through a Kickstarter campaign and we still have a ways to go. Please check out the campaign and make a pledge! Thank you! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fpa/launch-the-first-person-arts-podcast/

  • Jen says:

    Great article! Since you asked for more podcast suggestions, I’ll make a shameless plug :) I am one of the hosts of an all female show called “Anomaly” and have just celebrated 7 years as a podcast. We cover sci-fi/fantasy and various other geek topics. We’re on Stitcher Radio as well as the iTunes, Blackberry and Zune stores, just to name a few. anomalypodcast.com

  • Rachel Olsen says:

    Wow, very interesting article and stats. I am a female podcaster that is relaunching my show in the fall http://www.bestmomproducts.com where I interview mom entrepreneurs about their business and juggling family. I am disappointed at the # of female hosts but wonder how many female listeners there are. Do you have any idea?

  • Julie, we’d like your help getting the Nerdette word out! Can you add us to your list of WHPs? Thanks!

  • Lea Rice says:

    Hello Julie

    My name is Lea – you’ve mentioned the High Tea cast in your article above and I just wanted to drop you a line to say hi and a great big thank you! Fantastic article and of course, we couldn’t agree more!

    All the best

    Lea x

  • Rachel Olsen says:

    Julie, would you mind adding me to your WHP list, too? It is Best Mom Products where I interview mom entrepreneurs about their adventures in business while juggling kids. http://www.bestmomproducts.com.

  • Rachel Olsen says:

    Thank you, Julie, for adding Best Mom Products. I appreciate you helping spread the word.

  • My name’s Brandie, I’m one of 3 co-hosts of the Lady to Lady podcast, a comedy podcast based out of Los Angeles, CA. I was doing some googling and came across your article & wanted to reach out! We’ve got a little over 30 shows under our belt now, and have taken the show on the road a few times now too – thought you might enjoy a listen.


    Comedians Barbara Gray, Brandie Posey & Tess Barker pull up a fourth chair each week and talk everything from birth control to burritos. Expect a different kind of show full of surprises, live characters and weekly segments with catchy theme songs such as Lady Problems, F**k/Marry/Kill, James Deen Tweets & more!

  • Hi everyone! I just wanted to share a new WHP (that’s also produced by a woman)- the First Person Arts Podcast. It launched today. It’s a new storytelling podcast featuring stories from a Philly storytelling organization, First Person Arts. Please take a listen and let us know what you think. Thank you! – Karina (PS I mentioned it earlier in this thread when we were fundraising through Kickstarter. Fundraising was successful!) https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/first-person-arts-podcast/id662973884?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

  • toinettevizard says:


    I would love to add my new podcast to the list of Women Hosted Podcasts! Myself and co-host Angela Stoner launched Vagina Chronicles Podcast this week on iTunes! Our show is about breaking the silence on women’s issues and gender inequality across the planet. We invite listeners to let us know what they want to hear about for future episodes.

    Thank you so much!


  • Rachel says:

    We are seeing more and more female podcasters! Just this week of the Top 10 new shows added to Stitcher, 3 of them are hosted by females! http://www.stitcher.com/toplists/most-popular-podcasts-new-11-11-13
    That is still only 30% but it is a definite positive move!

  • jsabatier says:

    I’m raising funds for my WHP right now! Please help Destination DIY go monthly in 2014: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/destination-diy-monthly/x/4899388
    Julie Sabatier

  • cassie says:

    ROMANTIC FRIENDSHIP! 3 years running, produced in Brooklyn, NY
    queer, feminist radio!

  • Travis Johnson says:

    Ctrl+F > Lorrie Edmonds > Spacious, Sundayzed Musical Transcendence

    Seriously, does anyone know who this woman is? Her show is incredible.

  • Cathy Byrd says:

    Don’t know how I missed this post and your incredible network! I’d like to introduce my audio podcast series Fresh Talk, on http://FreshArtInternational.com. Each episode features a conversation about creativity in the 21st century, interviews with international artists, curators, architects, filmmakers, writers and composers that I’ve been producing since late 2011. The full series is on the website, and downloadable from iTunes, Stitcher and prx.org. Thanks for sharing this with your colleagues and fans!

  • Cathy says:

    Julie, Forgot to ask: Please add Fresh Art International to the WHP list? Thanks!

  • Andrew says:

    If we are using the top 100 then we are speaking about successful podcasts. If this is true, then there is this issue: http://discovermagazine.com/2005/nov/men-hear-womens

  • Julia Barton says:

    Hey everyone–since this is making the rounds again–I moved the old DTFD podcasts to Soundcloud finally. No one tells you how much maintenance old podcasts require! Hours per year at least. https://soundcloud.com/bartona/sets/dtfd-the-podcast

  • Karen Y says:

    I’m very late to this party, having launched our WHP in June of 2014 and only recently discovered the gaping gender disparity. We are seeing it in person right this minute as we attend the LA Podfest, so we especially appreciate the insights you shared in this article about joining networks and building audience share. Thanks for helping steer us and other female podcasters in the right direction!

  • Thanks for the mention, Lily! And nicely written, as per usual. I don’t think your link showed up, so here it is for everyone else to see/enjoy, and check out links to more lady-made productions.

Links to “Women Hosted Podcasts”

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