My heart always sinks a little when I scour the Apple Podcasts charts. It’s still so rare that I see any women podcasters making the official top ten.
In fact, at the time of writing this article, there were no women-led shows in the UK charts and just one in the US. In other countries, the lack of female rank representation looks just as bad.
Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. Like most creative industries, podcasting is dominated by male voices.
But with figures showing that female podcast listener numbers are up 76% since 2018, why aren’t there more women podcasters making the charts?
Where Are All the Women Podcasters In the Charts?
It would be wrong to say there are no success stories for women podcasters in the charts. For example, Elizabeth Day’s ‘How to Fail’ and Vogue Williams’ ‘My Therapist Ghosted Me’ are consistently in the top 20. But the problem is, there’s just not enough.
Data on the gender split of podcast creators is pretty tough to get your hands on. But in one report from Sounds Profitable, just 29% of podcast creators in the US identified as women compared with 69% of men. 2% of those surveyed identified as non-binary.
Outside of this small study, there’s a real lack of solid data. This makes it hard to understand why women are so underrepresented in the podcast charts.
One report says the lack of data makes it “difficult to say if women’s underrepresentation on Apple’s top 100 podcasts is because women are not hosting as many podcasts or because they are not receiving recognition for their podcasts”.
The same report highlights some potential obstacles that could be preventing women from creating more podcasts. For example, there are fewer women in tech and are less likely to have experience with podcast recording and editing software because technology is a space dominated by men.
If podcasts are anything like books, there could also be fewer women in the charts simply because men don’t listen to podcasts by women as much as they listen to content by men.
It’s likely there’s a whole combination of factors keeping women out of the podcast charts. But the good news is, that there are some inspirational women who are on a mission to do something about it.
3 Women Making Waves in Podcasting
There are a lot of women podcasters and female-inspired podcast networks championing females in the field right now. After tuning into the International Women’s Podcast Festival this year, here are my top 3 to watch.
1. Imriel Morgan
Imriel Morgan is the CEO of Content is Queen and one of the founders of the International Women’s Podcast Festival.
Content is Queen is a London-based podcasting agency and community that seeks to amplify minority voices in podcasting.
The event was created to celebrate women who have been building up the industry but aren’t being recognised.
“There are still a number of hurdles for different people to jump through. But I think women can be at the forefront of the podcasting industry and should be. We are consuming, we are creating, and we are creating for audiences that are largely under-served,” said Imriel.
“So we are the ones creating at this mass rate but we aren’t necessarily benefiting financially or with the credibility, popularity or even the job prospects. I think there are a lot of things we need to address.”
2. Kim Fox
Also known as ‘The Podcast Professor’, Kim Fox is a leading academic who produces, teaches and conducts academic research in podcasting. She’s also a journalism professor with The American University in Cairo.
Fox recognises that progress in the field is almost entirely down to women championing other women podcasters:
“We are finding that more women are aligning up with other women and these opportunities […] are extremely valuable.”
“The way we share information, the way we cheer for each other, you can guarantee there aren’t going to be any ‘manels’ [all-male panels]. Sometimes, we hear when these conferences take place that they couldn’t find any women to talk about this topic. That’s not true.”
3. Bianca Foley
Bianca Foley is one half of the very successful, all-female-driven, Sustainably Influenced podcast.
Along with co-host Charlotte Williams, the duo’s show focuses on eco-fashion. The show was born out of a chat between friends about the frustration of packaging.
Despite the challenges of launching just before the pandemic hit in 2020, the show has gone from strength to strength. It’s now in its sixth season.
Content creator Bianca said: “I wanted to do a podcast for ages, but I didn’t have the confidence to just start it and that’s why I was so glad that Charlotte just said, we are going to do this, let’s just do it, let’s just try.”
Best Advice From Women Podcasters? Just Do It
The advice to women podcasters from Content is Queen’s Imriel Morgan is, if you’re thinking of starting a podcast, stop thinking.
“My advice is just to start,” she said. “I’m not saying you have to press publish, I’m not saying you have to distribute it to the world, even though that’s far less scary than you think it is, but just start the process.
“We want to see those stories, and we want to hear what you’ve got to say. It does matter, and it is valid.”
If this has inspired you to start your own women-led podcast, this guide on how to start a podcast has everything you need to know.
And if all this has got you interested in checking out another great women-led podcasting conference, She Podcasts Live 2023 will take place June 19-22 in Washington DC.