I want to make my Patreon more inclusive for women

Hey everyone!

My Patreon is for a space podcast called WeMartians. It dabbles in science, engineering and exploration. My audience is predominantly men, probably because I am a man and all my instincts market the show with that bias. Despite making concerted efforts to balance my guests and appeal to women, I have not reached gender parity in my audience. But this is a problem for my content, not my Patreon.

The specific thing I’m tackling today is more broadly my Patreon structure and how to make it more inclusive. Here’s why: The centre piece of my benefits is a Discord community. I’m happy with the group of people I’ve assembled there (they are amazing and I learn a lot from them) but the gender parity issue seems to amplify as you go up the fandom scale. From Listener -> Patron -> Discord Participant, the % of women gets worse and worse, to something around 1%.

I’ve tried many things to improve this: projecting inclusive marketing, creating inclusive content, engaging and amplifying inclusive social media subject matter, and having inclusivity discussions in the Discord to level set expectations on behaviours. I haven’t been able to move the needle too much.

It finally (!) occurred to me that maybe internet chat rooms just aren’t appealing benefits to women. After all, these have historically been some of the worst places for women on the internet. And this led me to a whole other realization. Is the fundamental structure of my entire benefits package biased towards men?

And this leads me to the discussion topics.

  1. Has anyone else had this issue and how have you tried to solve it?
  2. What benefits have you given your patrons that seem to be popular with women?

Thanks for your time!

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well, tbh my main audience of stuff is primary men [or at least the type of people who love the NSFW stuff i make]
tho!
if you wanna make that part of women inclusive , the best thing, is just add a woman, but dont entice that as focused stuff, just add her as she always been there.

in art, we make the characters skills and then we manifest them with a body to be seen.
there is not much difference in real world, just add some people who knows that stuff, science of course,
if they happen to be females or males, is indifferent, but if your audience ask for more womans, then just add them without context, just their knowledge ;3

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Thanks for making this thread, @wemartians! It’s wonderful to hear you are actively trying to be more inclusive and it sounds like you’ve already been doing a lot of the things I might suggest. I have a few extra thoughts on the matter:

  1. Chat rooms can be a hostile place, but it’s up the owner/main admin to stamp that out and show to everyone that’s not ok in this space. For everyone to be welcomed, it has to be welcoming.
  2. Have you tried collaborations with women in science institutions or charities? I’m wondering if you reached out to them what they would say and advice they could offer.
  3. Have you tried asking the women in your community at the moment? They could be able to provide valuable insight into how they found you and their experiences.

Please keep us posted on how this goes!

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As a woman in science, this is a topic I’ve long been interested in. Thanks for bringing it up @wemartians

Are you aware of the Project Implicit surveys that Harvard has? I took the Gender-Science IAT not long after finishing graduate school, and my bias was SO pronounced, meaning that I strongly subconsciously and automatically associated SCIENCE with the MALE gender. (I should note that the implicit bias test isn’t measuring bias as in asking for opinions, it’s measuring subconscious associations.) I asked my husband to take it (he’s a mathematician), and he had very little gender bias – which we both found fascinating.

In our discussion afterward, we concluded that I had developed this strong implicit-bias because my reality was being the only female in a male-dominated world. From my undergraduate degree in crop science to my graduate degree in plant science to working as a molecular biologist, virtually ALL of my colleagues and every author, teacher, and role model I saw in science were male. It’s hard for this not to send a message that science is gendered.

I think the best way to combat this is to encourage representation. It’s a large part of the reason I do what I do. It’s 2019, not 1919, but every so often when I do school visits, kids as young as 5 will exclaim, “I didn’t know girls could be scientists!” - those early ideas we pick up about norms and expected behaviors have long-lasting effects.

I don’t know to what degree having female guests on your podcast will encourage female discord users (Reddit, after all, is 2/3 male to 1/3 female, so there is some evidence that online chatrooms tend to be a male-dominated space), but I certainly think it would help.

Looking at your past ten episodes, your ratio of male to female on the podcast seems to be about 2 to 1 (just going by first names, Tim, Jake, Mark, Mike, Rick, Jeff, Mark, Bruce, Philippe, Tim, Ryan vs Laura, Melisa, Elsa Ashley, and Holly). Honestly, being that you’re a science-specific podcast, I’m cheering for those numbers. Anything you can to get closer to 50/50 would be great, but at the very least I hope you’ll maintain a 2:1 ratio and make an effort not to dip below that.

In terms of rewards, the idea of trying to come up with a female-specific rewards makes me cringe. I attended a conference a few years ago that was targeted at women with 99.9% female attendance, and there was so much biologically-female marketing and content (Vagisil and douches as free gifts, the audience being instructed to chant “Vagina!” during a keynote speech etc…), that I went home feeling like I wanted to wear a t-shirt declaring, “I am more than a uterus!”

Your audience are human beings first – while there are certainly gender norms and trends, there is more variability between individuals than between genders. I second @mindy’s suggestion about asking your current female patrons if they have any suggestions or ideas, but on the whole, when you’re thinking about your rewards I think it would be better to focus on what space enthusiasts are interested in rather than what women are interested in.

If you haven’t yet read the Calculating Stars duology by Mary Robinette Kowal, that might be a good connection for you. The books are a fantastic alternate history about the first female astronauts (an extinction event meteor hits earth and humanity needs to get off the planet or they’re doomed). And there’s some great conversation happening around this series in regards to science and gender. I hope those thoughts are helpful, and thanks for bringing the topic up!

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Oh yuck!

I am a “woman in tech” and the gender balance is around the same, heavily male. I have found that many “women in tech” are actually turned off by conferences or events which are especially and exclusively female orientated. Such events will attract female students or juniors who are just starting in the tech scene, but many women who have worked in tech for a while will avoid these events as they have the reputation of your conference above. It seems patronising, to be honest, to be marketed to in that way.

Things we have found to help include women in our community are things like:

  • clear code of conduct, which is actually enforced. This makes women feel safer when beginning to engage with a community. Make sure it is clearly linked to in your community.

  • photos of previous events, even if there are few women there, it helps establish what to expect, dress code, the general air of an event. Not sure if this aligns with what you’re doing? If you’re running a blog or event, including actual photos is very helpful.

  • including female voices. Looks like you’re on the right track with this with your podcast, but also including female voices in your discord channel too. Maybe invite your speakers to join.

  • graphics including female bodies. Things like the little graphics included with Patreon posts, or the little graphic for a tier, make sure some of the bodies used are female presenting. We’re planning to use drawings from undraw (https://undraw.co/illustrations) for this, which is very gender balanced.

I don’t think you have to market to women specifically, nor do you need a “female” reward. It feels patronising, and singling out the few women in your community probably won’t feel right with them. More it’s about the general feel of your community and making sure female voices are included and your community has a safe and welcoming feel to everybody.

Hope some of this helps :slight_smile:

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My content is very male audience centric as I’m a sensual creator who focuses on lingerie and hosiery. I try so hard to interact with other lingerie collectors who are female and such, but I don’t think my Patreon appeals to them simply because there isn’t value in it for them. And I don’t mean they don’t value me or support what I do, they’re great! But they don’t get value out of supporting me in that way.

So I think it comes down to adding value for women. Have you had a piece of content that seemed to spark more female interest? That might be a good jumping off point.

You could also try a YouTube poll “Hey, we’ve noticed we aren’t reaching as many of you ladies out there so we’d love to know some cool, science-y topics you’d be interested in us covering. Science is for everybody and we want to hear your input!” (But re-word in your own language, of course)

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This is very likely. Men often have unconscious biases which easily show up in writing.

My background is in science, and I love science stuff. But women are busy. I have not looked at your Patreon page so I can’t make any judgments on it in particular but marketing people say it takes 5 seconds for someone to determine whether you’re worth giving their attention to.

So I would have several women that you know will tell you the truth (at least five, ten is better) look at your page, from graphics to posts, with an eye to what might make it more attractive to women. And I’m not talking about making stuff pink. Are you wording things in a way which is off-putting? Are you only referring to scientists as male, as if that’s the norm? Do you minimize women’s achievements? Stuff like that.

Also look at your followers list. Is that all male as well? If so, somewhere in there you’re telling your women visitors that they either won’t get value from what you’re doing, or they aren’t welcome there.

Be aware of the 23% rule: when your content becomes 23% or more towards any minority, the majority (men) will complain that (for example) that the women are taking over, that you’re catering too much to women, etc.

You may want to forestall this by making it clear that your goal is to welcome everyone, not just men.

Just my two cents, hope it helps. :slight_smile:

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