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Yamini Ranjan: Women are defined by their stories
March 21, 2022
Did you know that Wayland resident Liza Huber used to be a TV actress? Or that Wayland resident Jessin Varghese worked at UMass Memorial during the COVID-19 pandemic? Stories commonly seen brandished on the news aren’t so distant. Wayland resident and founder of the “Women of Wayland Podcast” Yamini Ranjan has made it her mission to bring the Wayland community closer together, shedding light on the stories of various women in the town.
Ranjan was inspired to create the “Women of Wayland” podcast in 2018, and since the release, 32 countries have listened to her podcast. “Women of Wayland” is a seasonal podcast with about eight to 10 episodes per season highlighting different women or men who work to empower women in the Wayland community. The podcast can be found on all platforms, including the “Women of Wayland” website.
When Ranjan got the idea to create the podcast, she realized that the everyday woman has many responsibilities that come with varying challenges as well as experiences that shape who they are. Being a stay at home mother, Ranjan finds that the common story is often overlooked.
“Women don’t have to be defined by a professional achievement. They have to be defined by their journeys, their stories, the things that they have experienced,” Ranjan said. “I am surrounded by such amazing women, and nobody talks about them. Why? Why is there not a need to understand and know these amazing, incredible stories?”
Before Ranjan had a child, she earned two Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees, one in India and one in Germany, and she was a biotech engineer. After working in the corporate sector, Ranjan has found a way to integrate her past education into her current life as a stay at home mother. Ranjan believes that everything she has done in her past comes to a full circle in podcasting, and she practices these skills, along with being a mother, daily.
“[Before I got the idea for the podcast,] I was ready to go back to my job,” Ranjan said. “But then I realized that it was very important that these stories had a voice. Having a child and having a family does not affect your work, it only inspires you and motivates you to do better.”
Over the course of the years Ranjan has spent working on “Women of Wayland,” the podcast’s purpose has resonated with her and become an insightful lens through which she sees the world. With it, Ranjan has been able to cultivate deep, emotional connections with various aspects of her life.
“[The podcast] is my heart, [it] is my reason to wake up every morning,” Ranjan said. “It taught me to respect myself as a stay at home mother, I never [understood] the power or the kind of energy that goes into [raising a family]. This podcast means the [world] to me, it got me connected with so many fabulous women [that are] amazing.”
“[The podcast] is my heart, [it] is my reason to wake up every morning. It taught me to respect myself as a stay at home mother, I never [understood] the power or the kind of energy that goes into [raising a family]. This podcast means the [world] to me, it got me connected with so many fabulous women [that are] amazing.””
— Yamini Ranjan
In Ranjan’s mind, the most important part of her podcast is the women she has met and the stories she has had the opportunity to share. Sparking community awareness of local stories is a mission of hers. From brave healthcare workers to creative food bloggers, Ranjan has found that Wayland has incredible female residents. Ranjan’s most important goal is that all Wayland residents can become more aware of the unappreciated women in their community.
“Women are heroes,” Ranjan said. “They are amazing, and I want [Wayland residents] to understand that everyone’s journey is great, important and should be respected. [Everyone should] always be on the lookout of what the women circle is doing, what kind of struggles they go through and how are they coping. Women are amazing and so powerful, and anybody who listens to our podcast should see that.”
Another important goal of the “Women of Wayland” podcast is to bring the Wayland community closer together. Ranjan finds that Wayland residents are often uninformed about local women’s stories and lives. Ranjan wants to create a closer knit community, where everyone feels comfortable sharing their stories with each other.
“In today’s world, I just don’t want the community to wave from the car. I want them to know each other if they’re living in the [same] neighborhood,” Rajan said. “Our guideline is to connect and inspire. Every next door woman is important, her journey is important and the world needs to know that. People should know each other. We tell stories to entertain, of course, but this isn’t an entertainment area, this is more like connection. More like building a village in this community.”
As for the future of the podcast, Ranjan wants to collaborate with others to incorporate more diverse voices and stories. She believes that this will create more of a community feeling. The focus of her podcast is on women, but through the podcast’s guideline to connect and inspire, Ranjan strives to create an inclusive platform that provides representation of various aspects of the Wayland community.
“I want to collaborate with young people who are trying to understand [the podcasting] field, and I can teach them editing and everything else they want to learn,” Ranjan said. “My expectation is to take a step back and bring more diverse voices to host and share stories. This way we will be able to give voices to [all] women, and not just me.”
Podcasting is an activity that Ranjan encourages everyone to explore and try out for themselves. Through her challenging and experimental experiences building the “Women of Wayland” podcast, Ranjan has learned beneficial methods to enhance her work.
“Anybody who wants to start a podcast should always have five years worth of stories, like a growth plan,” Ranjan said. “You cannot start a podcast with just an idea or a theme—you will run out of ideas. You should have ideas and know where to grow [your podcast].”
To unify the Wayland community, Ranjan believes that it is important to amplify the unique stories of different groups of people. She hopes that people will listen to her podcast, learn about the experiences Wayland women have had and share their own stories.
“I urge audiences to listen to diverse voices [and] look out for people that come from different backgrounds,” Ranjan said. “Try to open your mind to different voices, listen to them patiently, and that’s how you will learn about different people [and] different cultures. You will be amazed at how much they can give you.”