Why I’ve Made Female-led Podcasts An Essential Part Of My Day



With talk of new beginnings and better selves in the air, we can all feel under pressure to undertake some personal improvement. The focus is usually on trying to reverse the effects of a season of indulgence, but at the end of a tumultuous year, one which especially highlighted how society is still guilty of silencing women, our minds are more likely in need of true nourishment than our bodies. As a kind of antidote, I have found myself turning to female-led podcasts. It started off with just one. They’re harder to find than the male-hosted ones that dominate the top-ten lists. But a weekly deep and intimate conversation by two intelligent women left me hungry for more. It felt almost radical to listen to these women discuss everything from politics to pop culture to career advice whenever and wherever I wanted. Women’s voices are not given much exposure in mainstream media, especially in a way that centres them and trusts them so wholeheartedly. In fact, rather than a radio show, it was more like having the kind of in-depth conversation with close friends that makes the world seem a more hopeful place afterwards, the kind that sadly we do not often have time for.

I sought out more and more of these nourishing conversations, and they are now part of my everyday routine. I can be cooking, walking, or on a bus, and be cocooned by women’s voices, inspired by their knowledge, insight and humour. It feels like I have expanded my circle of female friends; friends who will talk to me about politics, science, pop culture, feminist issues, whatever I want, really. Because although you may not find them immediately when you look through iTunes or other apps, they’re out there, and their voices will enrich your day to no end. UK-based podcast platform Acast has reported that in the last 18 months the number of female hosts in their top 30 has tripled, and the self-starter nature of the medium makes it perfect for less traditional voices to be heard. Anyone with recording equipment as basic as a smartphone can create their own podcast, eliminating many of the traditional barriers women usually face when breaking into the media. Whatever your interest, you’re sure to find someone who wants to talk about it.

Call Your Girlfriend

Long-distance friends Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman decided to turn their weekly catch-up calls into a podcast, and with the help of their producer friend Gina Delvac, three years later they have hundreds of thousands of weekly listeners. Their friendship makes for a genuine intimacy in the conversation, while they discuss the latest political events, body issues, women doing important work in all kinds of fields, or sometimes just what Beyoncé is up to. Sow is a digital strategist, founder of the organisation Lady Tech Mafia, and was named as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in tech, while Friedman is a freelance journalist who writes for New York Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and is a contributing editor to The Gentlewoman, so you’re guaranteed thoughtful takes on the week’s events. Their circle of contacts is also the definition of the kind of smart women you’d love to be able to have coffee with. Past guests have included New York Times reporter Jenna Wortham, writer Margaret Atwood and Hillary Clinton. www.callyourgirlfriend.com.


A podcast that will challenge how you think about yourself, and your ideas, beliefs and emotions. Each episode, hosts Hannah Rosin, Alix Spiegel and Lulu Millar explore the invisible forces that control human behaviour through scientific research and narrative storytelling, exploring personal stories, fascinating case studies and cutting edge research on topics like how we construct reality, whether our personality dictates our choices, and what life may be like without fear. www.npr.org/podcasts/invisibilia.

The Women’s Podcast by The Irish Times

Journalists Kathy Sheridan, Róisín Ingle and Jennifer Ryan cover a wide variety of current stories on their weekly podcast, from politics to pop-culture and human-interest stories, as well as interviews with important women. www.stitcher.com/the-womens-podcast.


Often named as the most listened to podcast of all time, Serial sees investigative journalist Sarah Koenig explore ambiguous real-life stories through a series of interviews while also re-examining evidence. Rigorously researched and absolutely riveting, she weaves a narrative that shows the many sides of these confusing and multifaceted tales. A third series is due to be released in early 2018. www.serialpodcast.org.

The Call with Erica Williams Simon

Former political strategist Erica Williams Simon left her high-powered career to join the media world. In her podcasts, she speaks to other women who have answered their ‘call’, whether in their careers or through work they do in their spare time. Listening to women speak about risks they have taken, what is important to them, and how they maintained self-belief even when things were tough, can provide much-needed inspiration on a dull commute. itunes.apple.com/the-call-with-erica-williams-simon.

The High Low

English journalists Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton share their weekly whip-smart takes on current affairs. Unapologetically switching between high and low-brow topics, the duo make you feel like you’re catching up with good friends. www.acast.com/thehighlowshow.

Fair Game

Tired of the lack of coverage of women’s sport in Ireland, Elaine Buckley and Emily Glen decided to create a podcast dedicated to balancing this disparity. Focusing on the lives of individual sportswomen, as well as the sporting world more generally, they shine light on the often untold stories of these women who give so much to their sport. www.headstuff.org/fair-game.


Each week, furniture designer Amy Devers and artist and founder of Design Milk Jaime Derringer speak to a different designer, talking through how they started in their field and progressed through their career, getting into their inspirations and challenges along the way. Discussions will often cover areas like how design influences our experience of the world, as well as how design is valued in our society. From fashion to architecture to product design, they will get you to think about the world we live in, and the people who shape it in a completely different way. www.cleverpodcast.com.

The History Chicks

In each episode of this podcast, Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider take an in-depth look at the life of a woman from history. Some you will have heard of, some you won’t, but every episode is packed full of interesting information, and may even inspire you to find our more for yourself. www.thehistorychicks.com.

In Good Company with Otegha Uwagba

Although only three episodes in, this podcast has already made itself a valuable listen for any working woman. Interviews with smart, successful women reveal wisdom, advice and interesting stories. Topics like how to put together a business plan, competition among colleagues, and how to deal with clashing personalities in the workplace cover a variety of relatable experiences, and are interesting and helpful whether you’re just starting out or at the top of your field. www.womenwho.co/podcast.

Megan Burns

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