How Women Are Changing The Podcast Game

As of February 2013, Julie Shapiro reported that seventy-one of the top one hundred podcasts on Stitcher were hosted by men (many by 2 or 3 of them, in fact), with only eleven hosted by women (and three of those eleven were just sixty seconds long). Nine more were co-hosted by a man and woman, and the remaining 9 were either NPR or BBC news aggregation podcasts with alternating hosts and reporters.

Today, that landscape has changed dramatically, and the podcasting industry has seen a renaissance fueled — at least in part — by a rise in diversity among both listeners and creators.

There’s no doubt that the power of podcasting is rising sharply. According to 2016 Edison research, “21% of Americans age 12 or older say they have listened to a podcast in the past month, reflecting steady incremental growth since 2013 – when this share was 12%…That percentage rises to 36% when it comes to those who have ever listened to a podcast – double the share who had done so in 2008.”

The introduction of more diverse voices into the industry has yielded incredible results. As Alex Madison writes in Bitch Media:

“Late last year, massively popular true crime show Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig, became the fastest-growing podcast ever, hitting five million downloads. Women now helm two of top three most popular podcasts on iTunes (Serial and new NPR science show Invisibilia) and the third show (This American Life) often features female reporters. And it’s not just those heavy-hitters: throughout the world of radio, there’s a clear shift toward recognizing the importance of getting more women behind microphones and into producing positions.”

More women entrepreneurs are tuning in to hear from the women behind Being Boss and Profit.Power.Pursuit. Start Up, the very meta podcast started by Alex Blumberg chronicling the road to starting a podcast company was handed over in season two to it’s current host, Lisa Chow. Even online business gurus like Marie Forleo and best-selling authors like Gretchen Rubin are flourishing through this medium, too.

So many of us (myself included) are tuning in to crack up with Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson of Two Dope Queens, and nodding along to the oh-so-relatable Call Your Girlfriend.

I’ve noticed a recent rise in podcasts that reflect more of the intersections of gender and culture too, like the brand-new and brilliant Other: Mixed Race in America podcast by Alex Laughlin of the Washington Post. Kate Del Castillo just launched the first bilingual radionovela, too, called Sangre Celestial.

There’s good reason for this diversification: the average podcast listener is becoming more diverse, too. More findings from Edison Research show that, “the Podcast audience is growing increasingly non-white, with white listeners shrinking from 68% in 2011 to 63% in 2016. Also, the percentage of African-American listeners has not only grown, but also over-indexes from the U.S. Population, which is currently around 12% African-American. Again, much of this is due to the increasing diversity of content available.” The more diverse the content, the more new listeners feel welcomed into the world of podcasting.

There’s no doubt that we are experiencing a pivotal moment in podcasting, which is why I’m so excited to join forces with my longtime friend and DC gal about town, Bridget Todd, to join the podcast powerhouse team at HowStuffWorks.

I’m thrilled to bring even more of the career advice and feminist political dialogue I love sharing here on Forbes with listeners who’ve been missing the brilliant show, Stuff Mom Never Told You, since the departure of it’s former hosts and creators, Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin. I had the great pleasure of speaking with C&C and the Stuff Mom Never Told You audience last year as a guest talking all about my battle with burnout and how I’ve been helping other women get Bossed Up and achieve sustainable success.

If you have yet to tune in, Stuff Mom Never Told You, is a sharp and smart research-driven show that covers all the ways being a woman in today’s world can be, well, complicated. Bridget and I are thrilled to take the show in a distinctly DC direction as more women like us are looking for ways to stay informed, engaged, and take an active role in shaping both our communities and career paths.

We can’t wait to speak at the WerkIt! women’s podcasting festival hosted by WNYC this year to  connect with even more amazing women stepping into the audio booth to share their voice with the world. If you’re considering diving into this fast-growing medium, I hope to connect with you there!

So now I want to hand the mic to you: what do you love most about the increasing number of women’s voices being amplified in podcasting today? Do you find that more diverse podcasters are bringing something new and fresh? Which are your go-to shows that you always have downloaded? Let me know in the comment below!

This was originally published in my Forbes Leadership column and reposted here with permission.

Emilie Aries is the Founder & CEO of Bossed Up, where she brings work, love, and wellness together to help women craft sustainable career paths. Emilie received the 2015 Young Women of Achievement Entrepreneurship award from the Women’s Information Network, the 2015 YWCA Rising Star Award, and was named one of the LEVO 100 Change Makers, amongst such luminaries as Chelsea Clinton and Janet Mock.

Learn more and book Emilie to speak at your next event at wwwEmilieAries.com