The ATP podcast recently asked for feedback on how they could widen their female audience. They had a great discussion on what, if anything, they should be doing to accomplish that. Here’s my answer to them, which I thought I might as well make public.
Some thoughts on the recent discussion about increasing your female audience:
I’m another woman on the side of “don’t change your content” - I’m guessing the show is successful because the format works so well for you. I don’t think you should feel pressure to add or switch up hosts. I listen precisely because the show is you three nerds - I like listening to you guys talking about nerdy topics of interest to me. If the content felt anti-women or male-tech-exclusive in any way, you would have many people (not just women) calling you on it, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.
As for the ad reads - it’s a bit like the endless Viagra adverts on the Golf channel. Anyone who’s not in that demographic is just going to tune out. It doesn’t make me feel like the golf is excluding me in any way, it’s just an acknowledgement of how the current audience skews. I think most people realise that and aren’t put off by it unless they’re in a really nit-picky mood (oh hai twitter). Oh and regarding Harry’s in particular - women have been stealing mens’ razors since the dawn of time because they are better and not covered in gunk. The male-focused advertising probably gets more women switchers than you think. I wonder if it isn’t entirely intentional.
So what should you do? The Venn diagram of [tech orientated women] with [room in schedule for long podcast] for [people in a certain age bracket] etc. etc. may just be smaller than you think. That’s certainly the way it feels on twitter and github and stack overflow. Finding a podcast that you click with (especially in an informal chat format) is a really individual experience and there might just be proportionally less women that click with this one. That’s ok - you don’t need to be all things to all people, men or women. If it’s a problem of lack of exposure though - that women just haven’t heard of you - you could work on external marketing. Maybe that’s cross advertising, maybe that’s making more links with prominent women in tech, maybe that’s encouraging us women listeners to make some noise on your behalf.
Failing that, more tampons and toasters. Yep, that’ll work.
I probably come across as a tad flip, but I guess my real point is that I think they’re already doing a great job at “appealing to women” by being decent humans. There’s power in broadcasting sensible discussions of hard topics, especially in an internet that can seem full of shouty asshats. Fundamentally, whether you go for ATP’s combination of tech news, filesystem in-jokes, programming minutiae and raccoon updates or not - that isn’t really a gender thang, it’s your individual disposition. Of course it would be great if STEM education and workplace equality were combining to make those things appeal to more women. But for this woman at least, ATP is doing just fine - thanks for asking though, classy move.
That all being said, I would love to find more podcasts with female friends chatting about tech with their own inside jokes and loyal listeners. Hmmm. Maybe I should make that happen.