You’re driving home from work. Maybe you’re stuck in traffic and you’re cursing the commute you have each day. One way to make really good use of your time is to tune into a podcast. Your time in the car can be well spent listening to something entertaining or enlightening and inspiring instead of your boring drive. Yes, podcasts are in and becoming increasingly popular especially for women whether they tune in when cooking dinner, exercising, or driving to and from work. In fact, there is a growing trend for female listeners as more options for topics and content are created with the female audience in mind.
I recently caught up with Jen Sargent, COO of Wondery and Liz Dolan, host of Safe for Work and Satellite Sisters, to understand more about why the industry is attracting more women.
Bonnie Marcus: Why are podcasts becoming more popular for women each year?
Jen Sargent: Well, first podcasts overall are growing tremendously. And part of that is more content being developed and available across all different genres and subject matter. Part of it is an ease of accessing the podcast, which has become easier with technology over the past few years. Apple has a native app on their platform which is easily accessible to iPhone listeners. Last summer Google rolled out a native app on Android. We’ve seen a number of other additions to the market. Pandora and Spotify have been in the market for quite some time. So there’s a trend in general that podcast adoption is growing quickly and made easier through easier access and more content.
My point of view on why more women are gravitating to the platform is twofold. First the fact that the content is expanding and covering areas and verticals that women are more interested in. Every category that you can think of is now covered in a podcast. But there’s also more female voices being represented in podcasts. When you listen to a podcast it’s a very personal experience. And you feel a connection with the host typically if you like the podcast. And being able to identify with the voices you’re hearing is really important. So having women actually represented behind the microphone is an important factor in drawing more female listeners to the platform.
Bonnie Marcus: Has it been the intention of Wondery to build more of a female audience?
Jen Sargent: Our intention was always to create immersive storytelling and content that was high quality; that educates and entertains audiences. But we’ve had the intention of going broad with Wondery and appealing to a large swath of the population and listenership. So while we didn’t particularly target women, we were intentional about bringing diverse points of view to the content creation, diverse perspectives. Our team is diverse. And we really have gone into it thinking about “How do we appeal to all different types of audiences that have all different types of perspectives?” We do find that particular verticals of our shows tend to have high female listenership like personal growth, true crime, entertainment, society and culture, health and wellness. And as we’ve gotten success in those categories, we’ve continued to fuel and greenlight more shows in those verticals, which has helped us have a strong female listenership.
Liz Dolan: Wondery’s CEO Hernan Lopez came to me and asked me to help him create the workplace advice show. It was very important to him to have a successful woman’s voice on that show, and to have me contribute to really the way we designed that whole show and how we present all of the information that we do on the show, Safe for Work. So it was interesting to sit down with everyone at Wondery and imagine how a workplace advice show can also be a personal growth show and appeal to a very broad audience of men and women. So many business shows or career shows I think underrepresent the kinds of issues that women are dealing with over the course of their career.
Marcus: Women compose 60% of Wondery’s employees, as well as 40% of its executive team. Wondery also has female hosts for 30 of its 60 active shows. Has the high representation of women been intentional?
Sargent: I can’t speak to before I joined Wondery. But what I’ve found, our CEO Hernan is very much about creating a work environment and a team that kind of represents all points of view. There was a lot of diversity already on the team before I arrived last year. When I became COO, the five-person executive team moved to two females and three men. And I can attest that the women on the team have strong voices and have very much a seat at the table. In terms of our broader employees, we’re about 60% female. And while our goal would be probably to always remain at least 50-50, we’re thrilled that it’s skewed this way. But we continue to try to be really open and thoughtful with our hiring process and making sure that we really are representing everyone and bringing the smartest, best people to the table in terms of the team.
Marcus: How do you see the diversity of the team contributing to your success?
Sargent: We bring the female point of view. And it doesn’t stop there. We’re really quite diverse in terms of race and age and all different types of affiliations. And that really lets us push our boundaries in terms of what we’re doing. And I think it very much has led to our success.