The Evolution Inside the Podcast Revolution
You can’t talk about gender and podcasting without mentioning Julie Shapiro’s 2013 study. The Third Coast founder called out the dominance her counterparts held in every aspect of the business — from the content to the economics — and found that out of the top 100 podcasts, only 11 featured solo women hosts at the time.
Now that podcasting is enjoying its moment in the sun, has the narrative changed? It’s getting there. Today, around 33% of podcasts are led by women. And if you take a look at some of the most acclaimed podcasts from the past few years — Serial, 2 Dope Queens, and Stuff Mom Never Told You — there are women at the helm of each one. There’s still work to be done, and plenty of room for improvement.
While diversity has made strides, podcasting has long been infiltrated by the white male POV. WNYC’s Werk it, the only all-female festival of its kind, is on a mission to empower current and inspiring women podcasters. The third annual event, which took place Oct 3–5th, brought together 600 women from the industry. Over three days, sessions allowed notable hosts and producers to share their wisdom in an intimate setting while live tapings of shows like Death, Sex & Money were open to the public.
The pioneers who have broken the mold of who should be podcasting are showing that it’s a platform accessible to anyone who has something to say. But it’s not just behind the mic, it’s behind the scenes too. We have seen more and more ladies breaking into production or stepping out on their own to form their own podcast companies. The more women representing the industry from all angles, the more opportunities there are for future creators.
From taking control of your financial future to learning how to be kind to yourself and your body or laughing along with fellow parents — cabana is proud to work with some very hard working women who have turned to podcasting to tell their stories. Successful entrepreneurs, like Serene and Pearl of the Trim Healthy Podcast and financial expert Farnoosh Torabi of So Money, have used the platform as a new means to engage with followers. While an author and an actress turn their knack for conversation into two thought-provoking shows (hey,girl. and Little Known Facts, respectively) that have garnered rave reviews from listeners.
And when it comes to content, the conversation is growing beyond “girly things” to anything. From hard-hitting investigative journalism to tackling topics like mental health or money, female podcasters are proving that a male voice does not always have to equal authority.
“I’ve always kind of bristled when categorizing some of our shows as ‘female lifestyle’ because it’s not a sufficient label,” Stephanie Vance, our VP of Digital Content notes. “There are so many actual categories that could fall into such an abstract, nebulous term, like parenting, finance, food, and so on. To label these shows as ‘female lifestyle’ just because a woman hosts them immediately limits a potentially broader appeal. I’m encouraged by the growing diversity in the podcast space, I’m proud of our part in that shift, and I’m eager for a time soon when we’re not talking about female podcasters as a trend, but as an integral part of the fabric itself.”
The continued effort to support, promote, and represent shows featuring diverse personalities benefits all parties involved. It’s good for the podcast community, bringing fresh ideas to the format. It’s good for advertisers who are trying to reach specific audiences. And it’s good for listeners as people from all walks of life can hear their stories told in new ways.
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