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Nicole Simon

[ I am going to make this comment a bit more staccato because I am on borrowed internet and in between meetings and you have a deadline. ;o) ]

The answers to your questions are complicated because they tie in with 'the other usual stuff'. But it is not "just a guy thing". It is a "the women are not going to that party" thing.

A bit of background on me an why i am giving these answers below (no it is not a plug but to give context): First computer with 13 in 1984, interested in this thing ever since. First online in 1989, first contact to internet in '95, first uploaded audio files in '96, engaged in podcasting heavily (both listening and producing) in th English sphere since 2004, today I am also part of the European Podcast Award. By trade I teach people on how to do this stuff - if you like I have personal experience over nearly three decades of this stuff - first in personal live, then many years with my job in corporate in global IT, then later with my now consulting / teaching business.

per se women do not like to put themselves to the front (and frown upon it if other woman do it). They rather encourage behavior of fitting in than standing out. If they actually use the tools, they use it as a car: They want to drive it nothing more. A guy is more likely to want to know how this works and how to enhance it (partly to show off)

A typical scenario in blog land is that female bloggers have audiences but are so much less likely to do the hustling necessary to promote themselves (see above) where as guys have near to no shame doing it. They plug, promote, connect whereas women are more likely to sit in the corner and wait to be asked to dance. In a business like blogs or podcasts, this is not getting you more audience. So women are more satisfied in having their three friends reading it.

Podcasting aka audio is a level higher and more intimate than just text - take a moment to imaging a profile picture of a woman. If you see an icon a thing - anything but the real face - chances are this is a woman. They hide (and complain later that they are not as successful as the guys).

In audio you cannot do that as easy. It is clear from the get go "this is a woman". This makes you even more vulnerable than posting text. I have had my share of "you are boring but your voice is sexy!" or "I do not care what you talk about just read the phone book" to "cant you talk about something interesting??!!".

Also missing from sending out (which podcasting is, even if you have a show with somebody else) is the feedback. I do believe that women rely more clearly on feedback from the rest of the cave aka their surrounding. Is this acceptable what I just said? Do they agree? Disagree? Is this consensual? This kind of feedback does not exist when doing a podcasting. So you are talking into a microphone with no response from the world.

But if you go "hei! I have a message!" type, you do get feedback stronger than guys do. The over the top hustler /seller type is highly unattractive with women, so you get additional feedback on this.

Look at the amount of women going to the blogher conference and posting about finally having the courage to attend such a conference as a paying participant. not as a speaker, as somebody presenting anything, but as a pure participant. That is eons away from putting themselves out in front of a microphone. Let alone something they do on their own.

Then, the technical aspect. The moment podcasting came along the guys rejoiced. Because their partners had forbidden them to spent more money on computers. Audio stuff was something different all along. They liked to play around with it, invest money, try out stuff. Women in general are not that interested. (I can tell, because I am like those guys an I have seen the looks from the other women all my life.) By not playing around with the tools, they don't get into this stuff.

And because they don't play as much around, the needed knowledge about ftp, file hosting, web hosting, making the enclosures, setting up the blog in a way so the feed carries the files, get into itunes ... this you run into the "hihihi dont the guys do that for you?!!" thing. (I wish I was kidding).

Last but not least - hearing your own voice. Think about how much people hate seeing themselves on foto or video, voice is similar. To be able to stand your own voice and not cringe takes time. It seems like women are more affected by "oh my how do I sound?! Oh no, I cannot put this online!!!" whereas men seem to be more interested in 'getting their message out' than care about how they sound. After all, that is just a reason to get more equipment to sound better.

Women in general are still more proud of not knowing "how to do this stuff" than playing around with this.

If this all sounds very cliche to you - I wish it did not but that is the reality I experience every day. It is a similar reason why there are not enough women in well known blogs on the top lists, not more women in the list of top video people, not more women in podcasting.

The little differences sum up over time. Not learning enough about how to use the computers, how to go about connecting online, having a public persona, being a publisher to the outside etc etc sums up to a point that when you look at for example podcasting, that is one of the reason not many women are seen around this.

If there is a message from me, it is simple: Stop riding the back seat. Or stay in the back seat but then you give up the right to complain about the guys being on top. You do not need to be a podcaster to do that, but if you are an expert of any kind, ask yourself when was the last time you put in the effort to offer yourself up as an expert to a blog, a magazine, a podcast, whatever. When was the last time you checked your public visible persona? If you intend to live a few more years on this planet and you are in any way connected to the communicating world, then you will need to have a visible definition of your persona.

Or as I like to tell the old people in my seminars: This is not going to go away. It is only to get bigger. Deal with it. :)

Ashley Milne-Tyte

I hardly know where to start, but thanks so much for taking the time to give such a thoughtful response. What you say makes a lot of sense. Why didn't I think of the tech factor? I just did a podcast a few months ago on why so few women work in tech. And the whole business of being 'out there', and the fact that's such a big deal to women...I should have thought of that too. Will get back to you via email but again, thanks so much for posting.

Kylie S

Hi,

"Since the most popular podcasts are often public radio shows, I began thinking about who hosts such shows."

My first response (via Twitter) was a "!!! There's *dozens* of women out there, some who are recognised with podcast awards like the Parsecs and the People's Choice Podcast Awards, the European Podcast Awards..." - and then I realised this one sentence you wrote probably sums up the problem.

Podcasting has changed since it's become more commercialised - and I'm noticing this since being involved in podcasting since around 2006.

Radio stations have hooked onto the fact that you can pop episodes online and people will download them (rather than the, say, BBC4 model where some programs are available to be live-streamed for a week and then disappear) and treasure them. They pass them on. They become fans, attend live shows (e.g - if you're not aware of Dragon*Con and the popularity of the podcast tracks there, do check them out!) and even attend international tours of shows (check out Skeptic's Guide).

So, from radio stations to comedians and comedy shows - in comedy, there's still a tendency for men to dominate the landscape. That'll reflect in the top shows downloaded too. If they're funded well, appear on TV and commercial radio? You're going to download their podcast.

How about the sciences? For every Dr Karl and Dr deGrasse Tyson, Infinite Monkey cage or Radio Lab duo, there's a co-female hosted / female run Astronomy Cast, Skepticality or Skeptically Speaking or Token Skeptic (the list goes on) that may not be commercially funded by a company.

Even fantastic podcast/vodcasts like Dr Kiki's and Cara Santa Maria's get an edge by being a part of the This Week in Tech Network (TWiT) and Huffington Post (although TWiT has since dropped Dr Kiki's shows, which is very disappointing). Independent shows featuring women hosts, can be picked up by satellite radio stations or non-profit bodies, like Point of Inquiry, Skeptic's Guide, Monster Talk and Skepticality. But it's tough finding a sponsor or getting enough of an audience to be viable.

In the Arts - there's lots of women writers who broadcast their novels, short-stories and fan-casts for science fiction, etc - the Parsec Awards reflect that, but again, there's a tendency for more men in that field too.

In my opinion, there's lots of women in podcasting out there; it's just in the aftermath of major corporations and broadcasting bodies embracing the medium, they've also inadvertently "bumped up" the male status-quo.

Note - women are more likely to buy and use social networking technology:

http://www.themarysue.com/women-buy-technology-more-than-men/
http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/March/Pew-Internet-Social-Networking-full-detail.aspx

so the "girls aren't into technology" isn't as valid an argument, in my opinion? Mind, you have to consider the impact of podcast burnout, which can influence any podcaster (any information if that will influence women more, as a minority group?).

And as Nicole Simon wrote: "...if you are an expert of any kind, ask yourself when was the last time you put in the effort to offer yourself up as an expert to a blog, a magazine, a podcast, whatever. When was the last time you checked your public visible persona?"

Yes. THAT. If people WANT to see women in podcasting; want variety and diversity? Start finding out about shows, start promoting them, praise them and survey your listeners and check out your progress. _Then do it all over again!_

I'm doing a talk at a conference called ScienceRewired in October in Adelaide, Australia, and the "so, how did I get into this?" element will be a part of my presentation. In short? It was primarily via the example of other podcasting women out there who inspired me!

K.

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