Championing women in learning & development

Andrew Jacobs explains why he started the incredibly popular Women Talking About Learning podcast and shares his top tips for starting a podcast of your own.

Women are underrepresented in senior roles in learning. One reason for this may be a lack of role models. To counteract this, I started to produce the Women Talking about Learning Podcast. Every guest is a woman, the topics are suggested by women and the space is available purely for women to talk through a topic that is important to them at the time. It’s obviously hit a nerve and been way more popular than I could ever have imagined. Approx 5,000 podcasts have been downloaded so far and Women Talking About Learning is listened to in 59 countries.

I did get some criticism about setting up the podcast – why is a man doing it? It’s as simple as using my privilege. I won’t speak at conferences, events, on podcasts, video etc unless there is at least an equal split of male and female contributors. Men championing women is vital – we are part of the solution, not just the problem. Since some people recognise me, it also seems sensible to use my profile to amplify women’s voices. 

Women Talking About Learning isn’t scripted or edited to form any narrative of mine and the guests have complete freedom to talk about what they want to. All I do is create the space and produce the output. Having no experience in setting up a podcast, I needed to learn quickly. Below is a list of some of the things I learnt, some more quickly than others!

  • Good sound matters. Having a good microphone is particularly important to make sure that your guests sound as good as they can.
  • Editing takes time. I use Audacity to edit the podcast episodes, which is fairly easy to use. However, bad connections, echoes, background noise and lots of stops and starts can add hours onto a simple podcast episode edit

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    • Publishing takes practice. If you’re going to publish on a global platform, you need to know where and how to host the episodes. I also changed the logo that I had produced for the podcast after a few weeks – the first one simply wasn’t professional enough.
    • Have a clear narrative. It’s easy to describe what the Women Talking About Learning podcast is. It has a clear goal, aim, structure and approach. Make sure your podcast series is the same: if it’s conversations with senior leaders then make sure every guest knows the structure and purpose. Time limits also help.

    Here are some great podcasts to develop your critical thinking skills: 

    • BBC Radio 4 Analysis Examines public policy ideas and the forces that impact on how they’re decided. Always insightful, it will encourage you to think critically about topics that you may not have considered.
    • RSA Bridges to the Future Matthew Taylor, the RSA’s former Chief Executive (2006 to 2021) speaking with experts and thinkers about how to build effective bridges to a new future.
    • The Learning Hack podcast John Helm expertly interviews key L&D people to identify the core of what makes them good at their jobs and successful in their approaches.

    Which podcasts would you recommend to other people? Please get in touch and let me know what I’ve missed!

     

    Sarah Burrell

    About Andrew Jacobs

    Andrew Jacobs is Learning Principal for Llarn Learning. Known for innovative thinking about learning, training and technology, Andrew has significant experience in a range of roles across learning, training, talent and people development. This experience has been learnt in a range of industries in both the public and private sector, most recently in central government with HMRC and the Department of Health and Social Care.

    He has a specific understanding of developing online and digital solutions for learning, social profile and engagement. He is a Fellow of the LPI and a CIPD Leader in Learning. He received the Internet Time Alliance award for his work on informal learning in July 2020.

    He blogs daily at www.lostanddesperate.com and produces the podcast Women Talking About Learning.

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