Is There a Race and Gender Pay Gap in Podcasting?

We need your help! Take the pay gap survey here.

What We Know

Podcasting is an incredible medium to be part of. Creators can be welcoming and kind. The space is inclusive, and there are no large barriers to entry. But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum — the same forces that give privilege to groups in the larger media and tech industries exist within audio. This raises questions about people of color and women being able to thrive and monetize within the industry. And we need answers.

Pay gaps are insidious. In multiple industries from engineering to nursing (yes, even women in women-dominated fields earn less), many women make just 78–80% of what their male counterparts earn. In the tech industry, 60% of the time men are offered, on average, 3% higher salaries than women for the same job title at the same company.

Because of this gross inequality, women end up working from January of the year prior until sometime in April of the next year to reach parity (represented on April 2 as Equal Pay Day). Equal Pay Day is even further out for Black, Native, and Latinx women, who earn as little as $0.53 to every dollar earned by a man. These numbers improve marginally every year, but it isn’t enough. The World Economic Forum released a report in 2018 that at the current rate, it will take 202 years to close the economic opportunity gender gap.

A 2017 study shows that there’s even a pay gap in early-stage company equity grants (and in Founder equity). Equity is a relatively new form of compensation, but even it suffers from the historical baggage of the gender pay gap in salaries and bonuses. The average disparity in equity holdings for employees has women hired by startups getting $35,319 to men’s $74,998.

The most alarming imbalance exists in Venture Capital (VC) funding. In 2018, women of color experienced the deepest gap, with Black women receiving 0.0006% of funding, and Latinx women receiving 0.32% . Companies founded by women raised 2.3% of total VC funding invested. Mixed gender founding teams raised 10.3% — still dismally low compared to the funding received by white, non-hispanic male founders.

We need to put a stop to this marginalization.

What We’re Doing About It

Our focus at Simplecast is always on audio creator success. We strive to help unlock podcast creators’ ability to thrive — whatever that means to them. For a lot of creators, that means monetizing. We’ve heard anecdotally that women and people of color are finding it harder to monetize than men and white audio creators. With numbers like the ones above, it’s disheartening, but sadly unsurprising.

Simplecast has long advocated for greater diversity amongst podcast creators. One of our core values is that the diversity of podcast creators should reflect the infinite diversity of podcast listeners. Luckily, the trends in podcast listenership are trending more toward reflecting the general population. But diversity among creators has lagged behind.

It’s part of our obligation to provide podcasters a reasonable, fair path to monetization. If we don’t take action, we face repeating the same mistakes that other industries make– disparities in money, publications, equity, and funding. With the podcasting industry taking off culturally over the last few years, we have the opportunity to snuff out the biases before they take hold. But we need to do something about it now, before it’s too late.

Simplecast proactively works to reduce the barriers to podcasting success for marginalized groups, and support podcast educators of diverse backgrounds. And we work hard to make sure our team–the team that is helping to empower audio creators–reflects those same values. To that end, as just one of our efforts, Simplecast signed on to the California Equal Pay Pledge last month. By signing the pledge, Simplecast committed to:

  • Conducting an annual company-wide gender pay analysis;
  • Reviewing hiring and promotion processes and procedures to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers;
  • Disseminating the CA Pay Equity Task Force resources among staff and employees; and
  • Promoting best practices that will close the pay gap to ensure fundamental equity for all workers.

It was in making these commitments that we wondered, “Is a gender pay gap and racial pay gap in podcasting slowing the emergence and growth of women podcasters and podcasters of color?” Anecdotal evidence says yes, but we need to know more. We’d like your help.

It’s time to get concrete data and a baseline of how bad the problem is. We’ve put together a survey to answer these questions, and we’d love your help gathering the data.

If you’re wondering, “Cool. But what’re you doing with this information?” Well, that’s a fair question. The honest answer is that we won’t know exactly how to use it until we have it. We want to be able to offer tailored help to the people who need it most, and we can’t do that until we know the nature and extent of the struggles they’re dealing with. What we won’t do is use your responses to market to you, sign you up for our emails, or target you with ads.

Your input is invaluable to us. The survey is comprehensive — your answers will help us learn how to provide long-term support for creators and diversity in podcasting. If you’d like to help us reach even further, please send the survey to other podcast creators in your network. The wider we reach, the more accurate the results.

We’ll keep the survey open until we have a solid sample size. Once we’ve received enough completed surveys, we’ll analyze our results and share them with you and the rest of the podcasting world.

If you happen to be in Los Angeles on June 27th, please join us for an another event in the series we’ve been sponsoring with Jay Connor of the Extraordinary Negroes Podcast — An Extraordinary Evening: For Podcasters of Color. You can also find us hosting the #PM19’s Podcasters of Color Networking Event at Podcast Movement in Orlando in August, and I’ll be speaking at She Podcasts Live in Atlanta in October about the unique challenges facing women podcast creators.