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12 Podcasts Every Woman Needs to Follow

12 Podcasts Every Woman Needs to Follow

So you've done "Serial" (both seasons). Now what? Curious to know if anything else in podcast-land can grip your attention to get you through that commute, help you enjoy your lunch break or get you into relax-mode at the end of the day?

You're in luck: there are some fabulous podcasts out there. In fact, 2016 is the year of the podcast. According to Edison Research, podcast listening (in the U.S.) went up 23 percent from 2015 to 2016, with an average of 57 million Americans listening in every month.

So grab those headphones: whether smart, funny, playful, or everything in between, here are 12 podcasts every woman needs to know about.

1. BBC Radio 4 "Woman's Hour"
Dissecting female politicians, women and social media, child trafficking and crying at work, "Woman's Hour" also features interviews with women like the Duchess of Cornwall, speaking out against domestic violence and poet Helen Mort. 

2. "Melanin Millenials"
Satia and Imrie — two black, British, London-dwelling millenial females — host this weekly podcast for the ShoutOut Network, tackling a range of subjects from race to pop culture to politics, as well as sex and mental health. Expect intelligent conversation and witty banter.

"Simply put I hadn’t heard anyone who sounded like us out there, I always tended to look overseas (read: America) to see glimpses of people who looked like me. As fun as that was, it was still glaringly obvious that culturally I was different and as a result I craved something closer to home that I could relate to more. The saying goes ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ so here we are," says Satia.

3. BBC Radio 4 "Desert Island Discs"
Originally broadcast in 1942, it's the simple appeal of this program that is part of its charm: a host asks notable guests — aka "castaways" — what their eight desert island records would be (guests also choose a book and luxury item). Everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Judi Dench to Nicola Sturgeon has played castaway, with Kirsty Young hosting for the last decade.

4. "Stuff Mom Never Told You"
All you ever wanted to know on topics like the history of tattoos, "lesbian bed death," the stigma of infertility and miscarriage and adult acne, in one place, hosted by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin.

5. "Women of the Hour" 
If you love Lena Dunham's witty, honest and self-reflective approach to anything and everything, you'll enjoy her podcast, which delves into some of the issues that interest her most: body image, love, sex, work and friendship. Bonus: celebrity agony aunts June Squibb and Emma Stone and guest appearances from pals like "Girls" star Jemima Kirke.

6. "Monocycle"
Man Repeller's Leandra Medine is everyone's favorite go-to fashion plate (who else can wear printed bikini bottoms with a button-down shirt and wedge mule sandals on the street and make it work?) and her "Monocycle" podcast offers more than her brilliant styling advice, with episodes focusing on issues like her struggles with infertility.

7. "Listen to Lucy"
These five-minute slots from the FT's management columnist, Lucy Kellaway, poke fun at everything from office dressing to management-speak. A must for the morning commute.

8. "Close Encounters"
Advertising itself as "your weekly dose of oral sex," this podcast from The Guardian is hosted by journalist and sex educator Alix Fox. It's about sex - and all of the messiness and kinkiness that accompanies it as Fox goes behind closed doors to chat about the most intimate boudoir moments with members of the British public. 

9. "The Spark"
The U.K. equivalent of popular US podcast series "The Moth," "The Spark" features personal stories by amateurs and professionals. The only rules? Stories need to be true, yours and under five minutes long.

10. "The Allusionist"
Engaging and intriguing, Helen Zaltzman dives into etymology and linguistics in these 15-minute segments. Perfect for ensuring you're never short of witty dinner-party banter. Wow everyone with your knowledge of "mountweazels" and similar... 

11. "Magic Lessons"
Elizabeth Gilbert — of "Eat, Pray, Love" fame — hosts this podcast, essential listening for getting in touch with your creative side which evolved out of Gilbert's book, "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear." With guest experts offering advice and helping to provide inspiration, this is the podcast to feed your artistic soul — especially when it comes to figuring out how to balance real life obligations with chasing your dreams.

12. "The Guilty Feminist"
"I'm a feminist but I secretly like the film "Pretty Woman" and in truth, am open to the idea of Richard Gere paying to enter me on a grand piano," begins episode 14 of this podcast, hosted by Sofie Hagen and Deborah Frances-White. Tackling feminism through a humorous lens, each episode is recorded in front of a live audience (many across the U.K. at festivals like Latitude, the Edinburgh Fringe and the London Podcast Festival), focusing on challenges and insecurities surrounding subjects like boobs, femininity and crazy cat ladies.

NEXT: 7 Must-Listen Podcasts By Women for Women »

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9 Podcasts That Will Make You Proud to Be a Woman
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Photo Credit: Tim Robberts/Taxi