13 insightful podcasts on women, feminism and gender equality

Illustration by Jane Bowyer, commissioned by Creative Boom for International Women's Day 2019

Getting bored of listening to the same playlists on Spotify? Wouldn't you rather learn something, as well as be entertained, and feel like part of a community?

Podcasts are rapidly moving from the niche to the mainstream, and they're the perfect medium for the rapidly expanding conversations about women, feminism and gender equality taking place around the world right now.

To celebrate International Women's Day, we've teamed up with Coconut to bring together our favourite podcasts made by women, for women. Covering a wide and diverse range of subjects, each never fails to illuminate, inform and entertain; plus they're all totally free to download to your device.

1. Guilty Feminist

If the ideals of feminism are straightforward, in real-life, such principles are not always easy to follow perfectly. The Guilty Feminist is an award-winning podcast and live show that plays with that idea and produces podcast gold. In each episode, London-based comedian Deborah Frances-White and her guest discuss the topics "all 21st-century feminists agree on" while confessing their insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that underlie their lofty principles.

2. Divided States of Women

The 2016 election brought to light the long-held deep divisions among women in America, yet women are still routinely discussed as if they were one homogenous group. That’s the intriguing starting point for this podcast, presented by liberal Liz Plank and her conservative counterpart Hitha Herzog. Together, they explore the multifaceted debates that concern the modern American woman, including both current news topics and more pervasive issues. In an increasingly partisan world, this is a must-listen for anyone interested in breaking out of the echo chamber and hearing some home truths.

3. Girl Boss

Girl Boss aims to redefine success for millennial women by providing the tools and connections they need to own their futures. On each episode of their podcast, Sophia Amoruso interviews boundary-pushing women and gets solid advice from the lessons they've learned along the way. Recent interviewees include Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos, Michelle Lee, editor of Allure, and Poppy Jamie, founder of Pop+Suki.

4. The History Chicks

Hosted by Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider, the aim of this podcast is to introduce you to some of the most fascinating females in history. These are not deeply serious academic essays, but more of a light introduction to encourage you to find out more on your own. Subjects range from Cleopatra to Audrey Hepburn, and everyone in between.

5. Call your Girlfriend

Call Your Girlfriend is billed as a “podcast for long-distance besties everywhere”. Each week, best friends and unapologetic feminists Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman call each other to discuss the intricacies of pop culture and the latest in politics. The tone is casual, funny, enlightening and often surprisingly insightful.

6. She’s All Fat

Comedy writer April K. Quioh and freelance journalist Sophia Carter-Kahn host this fun and entertaining podcast focused on “body positivity, radical self-love, and chill vibes”. In each episode, they chat about current events, popular culture, and the intersections between fatness and feminism. It's a subject rarely tackled by other podcasters, and this entertaining pair tackles it brilliantly.

7. Stuff Mom Never Told You

In Stuff Mom Never Told You, Bridget Todd and Anney Reese present a research-driven discussion of the ever-evolving challenges facing women today and throughout history, paired with smart, strategic solutions to further women’s lives, careers, and activism. Recent topics include ‘Are NFL Cheerleaders Being Exploited?’, ‘Drunkorexia’ and ‘The Hidden Cost of Valentine’s Day Flowers’.

8. How to be a Girl

How to Be a Girl is a podcast hosted by Marlo Mack, a single mom in Seattle raising a young transgender daughter. Each aspect looks at a different aspect of her life with her daughter, as they attempt together to sort out just what it means to be a girl. A revealing and often emotional podcast that goes right to the heart of transgender issues.

9. Made of Human

In Made of Human, Sofie Hagen - former co-host of The Guilty Feminist (see above) - speaks to people about how they function as human beings. How do they cope with all the confusing and hurtful aspects of life? Recent interviewees include doodler, actor and comedian Jessie Cave, artist Travis Alabanza and cartoonist Alison Bechdel. The honest and candid nature of this show makes it stand out from the crowd and is required listening for anyone struggling with this thing called life.

10. 2 Dope Queens

In this podcast two best friends, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, host a live comedy show in Brooklyn. They’re joined by some of their favourite comedians, for stories about sex, romance, race, hair journeys and living in New York. It's hilarious, while also making some insightful and essential points about all these thorny issues.

11. Hoovering

Hoovering is not, as you might think, about housework but is a podcast devoted to eating. In each episode host, Jessica Fostekew interviews guests about their approach to food, including comedian Jen Brister, author Sophie Hagen and podcaster Taylor Glenn. Whether your own habits involve gobbling, guzzling, nibbling, scoffing, devouring or wolfing, this quietly brilliant podcast will remind you that you're not alone.

12. Nerdette Podcast

Nerdette is a podcast devoted to nerding out. Hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen talk in detail to authors, artists, astronauts and others about the things they’re watching, reading, listening to and encountering in real life. They also do a related podcast specifically for Game of Thrones nerds https://www.wbez.org/shows/nerdette-recaps-game-of-thrones-with-peter-sagal/7c1519a3-db3c-429b-97bb-b36e03302dfc. Both offer a true guilty pleasure for the terminally nerdy.

13. Woman’s Hour Daily

Woman’s Hour is a BBC radio institution that’s now available as a podcast worldwide. The daily magazine show covers all aspects of life, from the arts and culture to hard news. Attracting high profile guests and the kind of quality journalism the BBC is renowned for, whatever’s happening in the world, Woman’s Hour can always be relied upon to provide the female perspective in a thoughtful and non-stereotypical fashion.

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