My Ten Favorite Female-led Podcasts

Last night I was thinking about when I was twelve years old, and my family was imminently relocating to Mexico City.  I knew absolutely nothing about Mexico City, let alone Mexico.  I spoke zero Spanish.  I knew that my dad traveled there often for work, and that he was fluent, but I didn’t even know what to expect.  I actually stressed about whether I would be riding a donkey to school.  It seems absolutely ridiculous in hindsight (and completely embarrassing, honestly), but in 1993, we didn’t have Google, or even much of an internet.  I remember accessing my grandfather’s set of encyclopedias, published in the 1960’s, shortly before the move and turning to the Letter M to learn more.  True to my limited expectations, front and center under “Mexico” was a picture of a boy in a field wearing a sombrero… next to a donkey.

Thankfully, times have changed!  There is plenty to love about the internet, but one of my favorite aspects is that it makes it so much easier to gain informal education.  Whether it’s reading journal articles, news articles from reputable sources, or reading people’s personal experiences, I feel like the internet has really broadened my horizons and has made it so much easier to learn about things that interest me with a click of the mouse or the swipe of a finger.

One of my favorite ways to learn is through podcasts.  I love being able to multitask while I learn – I just turn on a podcast, pop in my headphones, and mow the lawn.  Or do the dishes.  Or cook dinner.  Or drive on a long road-trip.  Podcasts are there for me when I can’t sit down and read a book, and they often condense a lot of information into a short amount of time (usually an hour or less).  In fact, many of the books I do pick up these days are either recommended by podcasts, or inspired by the information I learned on podcasts.

I have plenty of podcasts that I love, but I want to recommend several podcasts hosted by (and often about) women.  There are so many to choose from, but these are the ones that I listen to regularly (and have published a new episode within the last three months).

First, there are many fabulous Mormon-related podcasts hosted by women:

  • A Thoughtful Faith by Gina Colvin explores a variety of topics within Mormonism and does so in a thoughtful, faithful way.
  • Year of Polygamy with Lindsay Hansen Park explores the Mormon history of polygamy both through history and through the modern era.
  • Faith Transitions with Nancy Ross explores the faith stories of those who have both remained within their native faith and who have chosen to leave it, and while the podcast is now on indefinite hiatus (sob!), the episodes in the archive are fantastic insights into the faith lives of both Mormons and those of other faiths.

Recently, however, I’ve been heavily listening to non-faith-based podcasts, and have been overwhelmed by the amazing information that is out there about a variety of issues.  Here are seven podcasts that I listen to and wholeheartedly recommend:

  • Stuff Mom Never Told You is my absolute favorite podcast right now.  Hosted by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin, the podcast “gets down to the business of being women from every imaginable angle.”  It’s well-researched, does a good job of being intersectional (and identifying bias/weak spots when they have them), really funny, and has addressed topics all over the map.
    Good places to start: this episode addressing the racist and classist stereotype of “Welfare Queens,” this episode talking about the science behind saggy breasts, and, a personal favorite, this episode entitled “Thank a Social Worker.”
  • History Chicks does the good work of highlighting women throughout history, introducing listeners to characters from both fact and fiction, and then offering a ton of book, movie, website, and other media recommendations for those who want to learn more.  Hosted by Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider, they also curate an amazing Pinterest page full of art and other resources about the women they highlight.  They do their best to highlight the history surrounding these women, while also acknowledging that much of history is written by men (and thus might be skewed!).
    Good places to start: the entire series of “Women Who Ran For President Before Hillary Clinton” including Shirley Chisholm, Belva Lockwood, and Victoria Woodhull, this episode on Lydia Pinkham, and, a personal favorite, this episode about Frida Kahlo.
  • 2 Dope Queens is a pop culture comedy podcast hosted by Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson about… everything under the sun.  They host a live comedy show in Brooklyn where they highlight other comedians, talk about sex, hair, race, and the merits (and/or demerits) of U2.  It is hilarious, but be advised – it has a lot of explicit language and adult conversation, and there have been moments that I’ve found myself clutching my nonexistent pearls.  I listen to this one with my headphones on while my kids look at me quizzically and ask “What is so funny?!”  Consider yourself warned – it’s not for the faint of heart!
    Good places to start: the beginning, with this inaugural episode entitled “Dad Bods,” this episode after the election entitled “Trying to Work Through the Feels,” and, a personal favorite, this episode entitled “Thank you, Harriet Tubman” which has surprisingly little to do with Harriet Tubman.
  • Nerdette is “a safe space for nerding out about all the things you’re watching, reading, listening to and encountering in real life.” Hosted by Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen, they talk about all sorts of things: science, politics, what’s on TV, good books, and so much more.
    Good places to start: this post-election interview with the first female African-American senator, Carol Moseley Braun, this interview with “Shrill” author Lindy West, and, a personal favorite, this interview with “Furiously Happy” author Jenny Lawson.  And if you liked 2 Dope Queens (above), you can listen to their interview with Phoebe Robinson, too!
  • On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett, examines “What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?” It explores this question through interviewing poets, physicists, religious leaders, musicians, authors, and thinkers.  It provides an insight into a wide swath of humanity, and Tippett has won a Peabody for her work.  It’s beautiful and heart-warming.  For the episodes I am really interested in, I usually download the unedited conversation so that I can hear the entire piece without interruption.  For musicians, I usually download the produced version, since the conversation usually has music woven in to help deepen and enrich the spoken word.  This is a podcast that I never skip, and it has broadened my horizons so much in the couple of years that I’ve been listening.
    Good places to start: this episode with Civil Rights leader Vincent Harding entitled “Is America Possible?,” this episode with David Isay about his StoryCorps project entitled “Listening as An Act of Love,” and, a personal favorite, this episode with Reverend Desmond Tutu entitled “A God of Surprises.”  But seriously, I could recommend so many more.  Maya Angelou speaking about W.E.B. Du Bois! Mary Oliver! John Lewis! Thich Nhat Hanh! Do yourself a favor and explore the archives over there – there is something for everyone.
  • Tiny Spark is a podcast that “reports deeply and constructively on philanthropy, nonprofits, international aid and social good initiatives.” It’s hosted by Amy Costello, and Tiny Spark, Inc. is a woman-owned nonprofit.  As somebody who has dabbled in international development work, I find this one completely fascinating, and I think it would appeal to anybody who is wondering about what kind of charitable aid helps, and what doesn’t.
    Good places to start: this episode covering a Kenyan charity entitled “Forget ‘Teach a Man to Fish…’ Just Give Him Cash,” this episode delving into TOMS shoes “buy one give one” policy entitled “TOMS Shoes: A Closer Look,” and, a personal favorite, this episode talking about the Flint water crisis a year after it was exposed entitled “One Year On, Water Crisis Stays Personal for Flint Foundation Leader.”
  • Science Vs is a podcast that is way outside my normal wheelhouse, but that I love for that very reason.  Host Wendy Zukerman “takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.”  It seems like there is a dearth of science-related podcasts hosted by women, and this one is fabulous at tackling these issues in a way that makes them interesting for both those who are science-minded and those who are not.
    Good places to start: this episode on attachment parenting, this two-part episode on guns and gun control, and, a personal favorite, this episode on what we know (and what we don’t) about the zika virus.

Do you agree or disagree with my list above? What are some of your favorite female-led podcasts?  


Liz is a reader, writer, wife, mother, gardener, social worker, story collector, cookie-maker, and hug-giver.

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10 Responses

  1. Catherine S says:

    Just this afternoon I thought to myself, “I should listen to more podcasts.” And behold, you have delivered a really incredible list!!! Thanks for specific episode suggestions–that gives me an easy way to dive into a new podcast, and I’ve already opened about a dozen of your suggestions in my browser. Thanks!!!

  2. Wendy says:

    This is a great list, Liz! Some are new to me too and the episode suggestions to get started are a gift! Thanks so much for taking the time to share some of the standout episodes. And I really enjoy your writing voice: feels like I’m having a conversation with you. 🙂

  3. Jemima says:

    My Favorite Murder is a great show. The hosts, comediennes in LA (who swear), fight against the politeness that’s engrained in us as women. Because being polite can get you murdered.

  4. Caroline says:

    This is awesome, Liz!! So excited to have these podcasts to explore. I’ve been desperately in need of more listening material.

  5. Steph says:

    I’ve listened to some of the “Stuff Mom Never Told You” and they’ve all been great. Excited to check out some of the ones on your list! I loved reading Big Magic by Liz Gilbert so I’ve listened to a few issues of her Big Magic podcast (like the one with Brene Brown) and really enjoyed it. Also “What Should I Read Next” by Anne Bogel. And sometimes “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.” (So . . . buncha white ladies. Better go branch out.) I loved Jessica Williams on “The Daily Show” and this is the 2nd recommendation for her podcast that I’ve seen so I’m off to give it a listen.

  6. Jani says:

    I enjoy the Happiness Project podcast by Gretchen Rubin and Bold New Mom by LDS life coach Jody Moore.

  7. TopHat says:

    I listen to tons of podcasts- and for each of my interests.

    I really love Good Muslim Bad Muslim. And So Many White Guys and Another Round.

    I also listen to biking podcasts and like The Joyride Podcast.

    Tech-wise, I like CodeNewbie and Note To Self.

    I also like CraftLit, which is a podcast that reads a chapter or two of a classic book and also explains historical/cultural references. Right now it’s in the middle of the Count of Monte Cristo, but you can go back and listen to classics like Dracula, The Woman in White, Flatland, Herland, North and South, Age of Innocence, etc.

    Related, I listen to a TON of knitting podcasts, most of which have female hosts. I’m not even sure where I’d start listing them: Two KnitLit Chicks, The Knitmore Girls, Brass Needles, TwinSet Designs, Skein Enable, Yarn Thing with Marly Bird, I also have an amateur one of my own.

  8. MJ says:

    I love podcasts! You have some of my favorites on this list and a few I haven’t heard of that I’m excited to try. Thank you!

  9. Allison M. says:

    One of my best librarian friends has an excellent books and reading podcast called The Well-Read Podcast. Highly recommended.

  10. Jon says:

    Mystery Show with Starlee Kine is so good.

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