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!