Thursday, July 11, 2019

Women More Likely to Leverage Political Podcasts for Social Utility than Men

The old joke on Twitter is that a group of two or more white men is called "a podcast". This observation could also apply to the political podcast audience, my recent survey found that 71% of listeners were men. In this post I explore the gender issue in a little more depth and particularly the findings of statistically significant associations between gender and motivations. The results indicate that women have higher social utility motivations and potentially higher partisanship motivations.


Gender Profile of Podcast Audiences


Recent surveys of the podcast audience as a whole, not just political podcasts, have found a male bias in the audience. A RAJAR survey (n=2,332) of all podcast listeners in November 2018 found that the audience was 63% male. Research by Edison (n=1,500) in early 2019 found that a higher proportion of men (36%) listened to podcasts each month compared to women (29%). A 2018 survey by Westwood One (n=600) found a majority male audience for podcasts but also found hat the female podcast audience was growing faster than the male audience. A survey by the University of Florida (Chan-Olmsted) in 2019 (n=2,000) found only a slight male bias in the audience with 52% male listeners.

I recently conducted a survey of political podcast listeners where the majority of respondents were recruited from a promotion on the Talking Politics podcast. 71.2% of the 1,346 respondents were men. However, there was a difference between those that listened to Talking Politics and those that listened to other political podcasts. When these audiences were separated out it revealed both audiences had an average age of 41 but 73.7% of Talking Politics listeners were men compared to 59.3% of the non-Talking Politics listeners. The finding for Talking Politics reflects their Twitter followers which are also 70% men (analysis by Brandwatch). It is important to note that the small size of the sample of non-Talking Politics listeners (241) increases the margin of error, in this case to plus or minus 6% at a 95% confidence level. In both cases there was still a clear majority of male listeners. The results also indicate there will be variations for specific political podcasts which may depend upon the characteristics of those podcasts.

Previous research has found that men have a greater interest in politics (Fraile, 2014). It is therefore not surprising  when we combine politics with podcasting to find a majority male audience. However, the characteristics of a political podcast such as the focus, format and the gender of the host(s) may influence decisions about listening and shape the audience. For example, the Gaslit Nation podcast, which is hosted by women has 44,000 Twitter followers of which 58% are women (analysis undertaken using Brandwatch). This is an area for further research.

Motivational Differences


The political podcast survey examined motivations for listening to political podcasts and explored differences in motivations by socio-demographic characteristics. This was done using an analysis of variance analysis (ANOVA) to highlight statistically significant variations in motivations. This analysis uncovered a number of statistically significant variations in motivations by gender.

Female respondents were more likely than male respondents to be motivated by being part of a like-minded community. There was a statistically significant difference between male and female scores (scores ranged from 1 - strongly disagree to 5 - strongly agree) as determined by one-way ANOVA (F=17.82, P<0.001). A Tukey post hoc test revealed that the average score for women was statistically significantly higher (3.29 ±0.11, P < 0.001) than the male score (2.89 ±0.07, P < 0.001).

By using a grouped cross-tabulation below we can see that 48.94% of women somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement "I listen to political podcasts to feel part of a like-minded community" compared to 33.5% of men. We should keep in mind that when using smaller cross-tab samples the margin of error for the proportion increases, in this case the margin of error for the 49% of women agreeing is plus or minus 6% at a 95% confidence level.

I listen to political podcasts to feel part of a like-minded community

Strongly disagree or somewhat disagree
Neither
Strongly agree or somewhat agree
Totals

Men
354
270
315
939
37.7%
28.8%
33.5%
100%

Women
98
95
185
378
25.93%
25.13%
48.94%
100%

Source: Survey Results, n=1,320


In the survey women reported they were less likely to listen to political podcasts they disagreed with.  Again this was statistically significant based on a one-way ANOVA (F=18.94, P<0.001. A Tukey post hoc test revealed that the average score for women was statistically higher (3.25 ±0.07, P<0.001).

The cross-tabulation below shows that 49.6% of women somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement "I don't listen to political podcasts whose political views I disagree with" compared to 35.4% of men.

I don’t listen to podcasts whose political views I disagree with

Strongly disagree or somewhat disagree
Neither
Strongly agree or somewhat agree
Totals

Men
425
182
333
940
45.2%
19.4%
35.4%
100%

Women
115
76
188
379
30.3%
20.1%
49.6%
100%
Source: Survey Results, n=1,322 

Given the responses above it is perhaps not a surprise to find women reported that podcasts are more likely to confirm the validity of their political views at a higher level than men. There was a statistically significant difference between male and female respondents as determined by one-way ANOVA (F=9.7, P<0.001). A Tukey post hoc test revealed that the average score for women was statistically significantly higher (3.28 ±0.1, P < 0.001) than the male score (3.03 0.06, P < 0.001).

From the grouped cross-tabulation below we can see that 46.15% of women somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement "Podcasts confirm the political validity of my views" compared to 33.2% of men.

Podcasts confirm the political validity of my views

Strongly disagree or somewhat disagree
Neither
Strongly agree or somewhat agree
Totals

Men
246
381
312
939
26.2%
40.6%
33.2%
100%

Women
82
121
174
377
21.75%
32.1%
46.15%
100%

Source: Survey Results, n=1,319


Social Utility


The survey findings indicate that women are more likely to discuss political podcast content with friends than men. While a high proportion of men, 75.6%, reported they discuss political content with friends this compared to 85.5% for women.

This is a statistically significant difference between male and female respondents as determined by one-way ANOVA (F=9.01, P<0.001). A Tukey post hoc test revealed that the average score for women was statistically significantly higher (4.08 ±0.09, P < 0.001) than the male score (3.84 ±0.06, P < 0.001).


Summary


We have to be careful drawing too many conclusions from a single sample, particularly where the number of female respondents was low (385). However, the results found statistically significant associations between gender and motivations, and indicate that women have higher social utility motivations and potentially higher partisanship motivations. This aligns in part with previous research findings that adult women are more likely to use technology for social engagement activities (Tsetsi, 2016). The study highlights the need for further research into female motivations, the role of podcast characteristics (content, focus and the gender of podcast hosts) and strategies to increase political podcast adoption by women.

References


Chan-Olmsted, S. (2019). Today’s Podcast Listener: 2019 National Survey Report, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications retrieved from https://web.tresorit.com/l#KqPiA_b5Ruf3Zz2j-9f81Q

Edison Research. (2019). Infinite Dial Survey. Retrieved from https://www.edisonresearch.com/infinite-dial-2019/

Fraile, M. (2014). Do Women Know Less About Politics Than Men? The Gender Gap in Political Knowledge in Europe. Social Politics, 21(2), 261-289.

RAJAR. (2018). RAJAR Midas Audio Survey retrieved from https://www.rajar.co.uk/docs/news/MIDAS_Autumn_2018.pdf

Tsetsi, E. (2016). Digital Divide 3:0: the Mobile Revolution, Smartphone Use and the Emerging Device Gap. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7ae0/6a661fedbc3567cc41433cf1b842d9ab4dc8.pdf

Westwood One. (2018). Podcast Download - Fall 2018. Retrieved from https://www.westwoodone.com/2018/09/11/westwood-ones-podcast-download-fall-2018-spotlight-on-the-habitual-listener/