Women, who have historically been made invisible and silenced, now have the opportunity of being heard through the podcast industry. In recent years, their participation has grown and, although there is not enough data available, according to Ivoox, 43% of the podcasts in its catalog of original podcasts in 2021 were created by women and 50% of its listeners are women.
As part of this search to be listened to, PodWoman was created, a podcasting event in Spanish dedicated to women. On March 5th it celebrated its second edition. “Our mission in PodWoman is to make podcasting more accessible to women, to value their work in this industry and to spread the word. I hope today we’ll come out wiser and [inspired[ by the example of all the women who will join us,” Maria Santonja, producer of Ekos Media and the event’s director, said during the streaming.
The event took place online for free and included more than 10 hours of content with panels and master classes where outstanding women from the podcasting industry in Spanish participated. Latam Journalism Review (LJR) covered the event and spoke with audio and gender experts to analyze the importance of spaces like these.
“Events in which women’s voices take the lead, allow us to make visible our lived experiences and subjectivities, which have historically been devalued. It is not that they give us a voice, but that these spaces allow our voice to be heard by a larger audience,” Abril Torres, a Mexican linguist and professor in gender studies told LJR.
It’s been said we are living in the golden age of audio and podcasts. Currently anyone with access to a microphone can record themselves and upload the audio to the various available distribution platforms on the Internet. According to data from Listen Notes, there are currently more than almost 3 million podcasts in the world and, among them, around 335 thousand are available in Spanish.
Despite the endless supply, some of the event's speakers argue that it is still an industry dominated by men. Although there are conflicting views about it.
“We have less representation. In podcasting and in business it is also the same. Patriarchal society taught us to be quiet, silent, not to make noise. To suddenly offer our voice, offer a message and dare to say what we [really] think and to be heard, is to be exposed to something unaccustomed and it requires greater courage because it is not how we were raised," Argentine Nayla Norryh, host of the Onda Ceo podcast which focuses on women’s entrepreneurship, said during her participation in one of the event panels.
Not all women at the event felt the same way. At the panel entitled “Women entrepreneurs dive into podcasting”, host of the “Freelance Espabilismo” podcast, Marina Miller, opened the debate by saying that she has never felt that because she is a woman she has had fewer opportunities. "Maybe it's because of my personality, but I haven't felt less for being a woman in this industry," she said.
One of PodWoman's approaches is to analyze the reality of podcasting with a feminine gaze. In addition, to make visible and value the work of women in all podcasting production processes. So much so that the slogan of the event is “we provide our voice.”
“Podcasting is much more democratic than other media and that allows massive access for everyone and, especially, for women,” Lalo Recanatini, an Argentine scriptwriter and podcast expert with more than 15 years of experience, told LJR. “I believe that the generalized, albeit slow, progress of women's rights in Latin America has also had an influence.”
Recanatini also pointed to the participation of women not only as producers, but also as podcast hosts. He praised the work of Carolina Guerrera (Radio Ambulante), Ana Ormaechea (Prisa), Javiera May Trejo (Las Raras), Martina Castro (Adonde Media) and Marina Hinojosa (Latino USA).
During Podwoman, the importance of role models was also discussed, so that other women are inspired to participate and create their own podcasts. "In this way, something that perhaps you thought was not possible, becomes a possibility when you see that another woman did it," Tania Lasanta, researcher and host of Luminicescia de Talento, said during the event.
Torres fully agrees on this point. “Women’s representation in communication spaces is important because it can inspire others to break new ground in their own disciplines and their own issues,” the linguist told.
LJR also talked with Mariana Vaccaro, journalist and editor of Podcasteros, a community of producers and podcasting fans in Spanish. Vaccaro believes it’s very important for women to have role models, especially in power spheres.
“To listen, see, be present (albeit virtually) and learn about the experiences of women from different countries, with different accents, always adds up,” Vaccaro said. “It is not the same to start producing podcasts knowing that earlier, there was a Martina Castro (PodWoman 2022 winner), for example. When you see women on the same path one wants to follow and they are also generous with the information they offer, with the tools, with what they share about their careers, it really adds up. To a large extent, I think that is what feminism is: helping each other. That's why it's so important to have events like PodWoman's,” the journalist said.
PodWoman, since its first edition, gives an award to a woman who has stood out in the world of podcasting during the year prior to the event. This time the winner was Martina Castro, founder, podcast producer and CEO of Adonde Media.
“We wanted to reward the impressive career of Martina Castro as a pioneer in podcasting in Spanish. And, especially, to highlight the wonderful past year her production company Adonde Media had, in which they delighted us with podcasts such as 'The real heist of the century,' 'Uribe cornered,' or the project 'Maradona’s final days,' presented in five different versions for five countries,” event organizers said in a press release.
Castro gave a master class during the streaming in which she spoke of the value of having a healthy work environment and contributing to the community when given the opportunity. "We, among women, know what it means to have to put in twice the effort. So that’s what I appreciate about this community and the fact that this PodWoman space was created," Castro said upon receiving the award.