Women in podcasting, an industry overview
What is the situation in the podcast industry when it comes to women representation? Is it as in any other industry or do women have a bigger voice?
In this new article on My Blog Box:
We will look at the overall podcasting industry.
We will try to understand the reasons of women underrepresentation in that industry.
We will go through the main actions to be done to change the situation.
Since its creation in 2001, the podcasting industry has been booming. According to The Podcast Index, there are more than 3.9 million podcasts worldwide and, in 2023, according to Buzzsprout, we will reach the milestone of 160 million listeners worldwide.
Important data to convince you that this new communication tool is not just a fad, but a serious way to interact with your audiences. However, this is not the subject of this article. What I wanted to survey this time was the proportion and representations of women as podcast creators inside this industry. I wanted to see if this industry was also dominated by men or if the podcast could become a feminist tool, at least a tool more open to women, to empower them, to help them make their voices heard.
Podcasting: a general industry overview…
According to a survey done in 2021 by Nielsen, female podcast listeners have increased by 76% since 2018, meaning that women are more and more consuming this medium and, consequently, become a new marketing targets for brands using podcasts to promote their offers and advertising.
But what about female hosts? How many women have their own podcast?
Well, it seems that, as for everything, the podcast industry is dominated by men and, when it comes to gender representation, there is still work to do…
I tried to find international information on that topic, to have a worldwide average. A kind of a quest to be honest. And the market for which it’s easier to find information is the American market as the one being the most mature when it comes to podcasting.
In a report published in June 2022 by Sounds Profitable, in partnership with Edison Research, for the USA only, men represent 69% of all podcast creators and women only 29%.
Another way to look at it, is to go through the top 100 podcasts from the different podcast players (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts) per country and see the ones hosted by men vs the ones hosted by women and you will obtain more or less the same statistics.
Quite sad, right?
Understanding the underrepresentation of women in the podcasting industry…
Why are there less women podcasting? What might be the elements preventing them from entering the podcasting industry and using this tool as a way to raise their voice, tell their stories and empower each other?
A research published in 2020 “Women in podcasting: We should tune in” tried to find answers to that question.
For them, the main reason why women are underrepresented in the podcast industry is that, from the origins, it has been an industry requiring more technical knowledge (recording, editing, work with computers and special softwares…). And when we say technical knowledge, we mean men.
So, it would mean that, if we follow the main conclusion of this research, sexism, and all stereotypes linked with it, is at the origins of underrepresentation of women in podcasts.
3 reasons explaining underrepresentation of women in the podcasting industry
Reason #1: A need for technical knowledge.
One reason, as we saw, is that podcasting requires some technical knowledge.
Indeed, to create a podcast, you need to know how to use a computer, a microphone, headphones, some softwares as GarageBand or Audacity.
And, the patriarchal education we’ve been having made sure to condition us thinking that only men are good in everything “technical”.
This belief created an unconscious barrier to limit access for women.
Reason #2: The perception of women
Another reason which can explain this discrepancy is the way women are perceived in the society. Still nowadays, women are seen as being less competent and serious than men when they talk about the same type of topics. People would say “Oh she is a woman, she can’t be competent, she can’t possibly know that kind of topic, she is just looking for a hobby, to pass time”.
In a word, she doesn’t have enough intelligence, as opposed to men, to talk about certain topics and, consequently, to have a podcast.
Reason #3: The perception of women’s tone of voice
Mother Nature made the voice of women sound a bit more nasal, high-pitched which, in our society, makes them (meaning us, I am also a woman) sound less authoritative, less serious (again), less professional.
Men, with their lower pitched voices, vehiculate a notion of seriousness, attractiveness, confidence.
And mainstream media are still heavily dominated by men and men’s voices, which means that people are more used to listen to the tone of voice of a man than to the one of a woman.
How to break this vicious circle of women underrepresentation in the podcast industry?
And not just for the podcast industry, for any kind of industry…
To me, the main action to do is to promote female owned podcasts. The more we will see women hosting their own podcasts, the more it will inspire other women to launch their own podcasts. I, myself, launched my podcast because I was inspired by another woman.
Having role models is very important as we are able to identify ourselves to them. If these women were able to create their podcast, then I should also be able to do so.
And, if I was able to create my own podcast, then you are also able to do it.
The more we will listen to women’s podcasts, the more we will get used to their “high-pitched” voice to reach the point that no difference would be made between the voice of a man and the one of a woman.
As far as for the technical aspect of podcasting… To be honest, you don’t need to have crazy expensive or difficult to use materials to start. A computer, headsets and a microphone are enough to start. Programs as GarageBand or Audacity are intuitive to use. And, there is always room for improvement, the most important being to get started, even if it’s not perfect at the beginning. Remember, practice makes perfect.
As Deborah Frances-White from the podcast “The Guilty Feminist” said: “A podcast is a radio show that nobody can stop you making.”
Take control over your messages, take control over your voice and your story, take the power with your own podcast.
One of my missions is to help women to make their voice heard and tell their story. That is why I decided to specialize into podcast launches and podcast management. I even wrote a guide for you to help you create easily and, almost free of charge, your own podcast. Check out my article “What you need to create your podcast free of charge (or almost) - Your Podcast Starting Kit” and download your workbook here.
And, if you are curious as to know how I started my own podcast, then go and read my article “How I launched my own podcast in somewhat 8 easy steps”.
If you are ready to make your voice heard, tell your stories and work on a better representation of women in podcasting, I am your man! Meaning your woman 😀.
Let’s change the world together!