Road to Independence with Aminatou Sow


The new fall season kicks off with Aminatou Sow, host of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast where she discusses all things pop culture, politics, and feminism with her long-distance best friend. A fierce boss lady, digital powerhouse, and writer, Aminatou has been named in Forbes 30 Under 30 in Tech and amongst Women to Watch by KQED Arts.

In this episode, Aminatou shares about being raised in a conservative Muslim family and her experience immigrating to the U.S. From working at a toy store when she had no other prospects, to becoming her own boss and a well-known podcast host, Aminatou has excellent advice for creative women working full-time who want to become more independent and level up in their leadership.

Subscribe and listen to the full episode here (you must subscribe to receive latest episode).

Highlighted Excerpt:

Majo: So you started Call Your Girlfriend with your good friend Anne in 2014?

Aminatou: Yeah. Anne and I had been friends a long time, and we’d had smaller-level internet collaborations, like, we used to run a really fun blog together called RIP Insta-boner (both laugh), and we had all these shared Tumblrs and stuff… but we had a third friend, Gina, who is a producer Anne had met in LA, and she was like, “Oh, you wanna do a podcast? I know how to do that.”

I love the idea of working with my friends. All of my most successful collaborations have been with friends. I think the podcast started as this project that was basically an umbrella for a lot of the larger projects we are all involved in. We’re young ladies, we’re 100% feminists, we love pop culture, we care about politics, and we’re very much ourselves. And we know a lot of women like this.

There’s nothing unique about my relationship with Anne. We didn’t invent long-distance best friends. We didn’t invent women who like to drink whiskey, smoke weed, and talk shit about politics. But we really believe that a lot of the things young women care about are too easy to trivialize. Can you really care about Kim Kardashian and the debt ceiling at the same time? I would submit to you, yes.

Anne and I are both curious people, and we were wanting to explore different mediums. There was something very charming about audio, and also in not really knowing what we were doing at first. Just the idea of learning something new that feels like a challenge to you? That’s really important to me. At the time there were a lot of these like, dude comedy podcasts, and I vividly remember a dude telling me that women can’t podcast because it’s hard, technical, there’s a lot of attention to detail… basically the same shit people say about women and coding. And I was like, “If you can do it, how hard can it really be?” As it turns out, it’s not that hard. (Laughs)

Majo: That’s great. It was almost like a dare.

Aminatou: Yeah, it was. I find it really interesting that men are allowed to have really technical hobbies, but anything women do is relegated to the domestic arts. I think about all of my friends who sew, for example, and that shit is like borderline trigonometry to me, it’s amazing! Or like, knowing how to make your own curtains or being a good cook... those kinds of things are never seen as a hobby or an accomplishment for a young woman because we’re just expected to do that kind of stuff, right? But a dude tinkering in his garage making a podcast? That’s a worthwhile hobby?

Please. What can we not do?

Show Notes:

  • Aminatou’s childhood: Growing up in Nigeria in a conservative Muslim family that emphasized intellectual curiosity. [1:25]

  • Thoughts on her high school days, being a feminist, and wanting to live in America. [4:30]

  • College years and the pressure to achieve as a child of immigrants. [7:28]

  • The unexpected death of her mom, what she learned, and how she moved on. [14:10]

  • Living in Belgium and DC, struggling to find work amidst the obstacles of being an immigrant, and the job that taught her humility. [15:30]

  • Landing her first “real” job… and then the recession hit – how panic and anxiety turned to hustle. [21:09]

  • How Aminatou redefined her path after being granted asylum and built a solid digital PR resume. [27:33]

  • How the Call Your Girlfriend podcast got started. [30:32]

  • The “weird ride” to becoming her own boss and Aminatou’s insights on the long game. [35:17]

  • Aminatou’s advice to women working full-time who want to level up in their leadership and gain more independence. [40:03]

Subscribe and listen to the full episode here (you must subscribe to receive latest episode).


Call Your Girlfriend podcast


by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs

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