Women in Drones
What can be achieved with drones is evolving on a daily basis. From performing inspections, surveys, photography, videography and saving the environment. Despite the constant technological developments, the industry itself looks a little outdated.
While the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) doesn’t keep track of the gender of those applying for permission to carry out drone operations, a quick look at the industry as a whole tells you all you need to know. In March 2020, only 3% of airline pilots worldwide were women, in the UK the figure was just 6%. You can speak to anyone within the drone sector and they’ll tell you, when it comes to drone piloting, there is little evidence to suggest such gender-based disparities aren’t apparent.
It is estimated that the percentage of women drone pilots in the UK is just 4%.
While the numbers are still low, there are opportunities for women in drones. However, in order to achieve real equality in the workforce, the industry will need to start earlier – supporting STEM education and drone training for girls who may someday fill leadership positions.
The world of drones might still feel futuristic to many, but technology is developing rapidly. It won’t be long until applications of drones are found in many aspects of our lives.
We recently held a Women in Drones webinar with a panel of women who are working in the industry. Missed it? Don’t worry, you can catch up here:
Meet the Women Impacting the Drone Industry
Caroline Earnshaw-Florczyk: “I tend to shy away from the thinking of ‘I’m a woman in a man’s world’ because I might end up sounding as bad as ‘I’m in a man’s world and women don’t belong in it’”
“I’m in an industry that’s classed as male-dominated full stop, and that’s been my experience for the last 6.5 years. I’m very much an equality-based person, I don’t like to be gender-specific and I believe everyone is capable regardless of gender. I tend to shy away from the thinking of ‘I’m a woman in a man’s world’ because I might end up sounding as bad as ‘I’m in a man’s world and women don’t belong in it’.
“I have been supported massively, internally at Networx3 by Ian (owner), he has been the driving force in encouraging me to be as involved as possible which is fantastic.
“I hope the industry develops for women and people take inspiration from the fact that we can all do whatever we want to do. I sadly don’t think the outlook on gender difference will ever be fully equal, though that would be a nice aspiration, I don’t think it will ever fully happen based on my experience. If anything, if anyone wants to see me as a hindrance because I’m a woman that just gives me more fire in my belly to go and do even better.
“Networx3 is an exceptional company for equality and diversity, always has been and always will be. I would love to encourage other women to get involved, have some fun and go out there doing a great job with great devices.”
Yasmin Tajik: “Becoming a drone pilot has opened up so many doors for me, to tell stories in a new way, to capture photos from a new perspective and inspire the next generation of female drone pilots”
“I’ve been a professional photographer for 12 years. I was aware of drones when they first came onto the market, but most of who I saw using them were men who were capturing landscapes. Because I was neither, I thought they were fun, but didn’t see an immediate need to have one for myself.
“It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I went on a photography trip with my friends to Iceland, that 2 of them brought drones and that was my first, up close and personal experience with drones. After seeing my friends operating their drones, the wheels started turning and I realised that a drone would be a great tool to add to my photography gear to use to tell stories in ways that they hadn’t before.
“It was then that I also found Women Who Drone, a global community of women drone pilots that I felt supported, encouraged and inspired, so much so that I joined them leadership team as their Brand Ambassador Director. I honestly feel becoming a drone pilot has opened up so many doors for me, to tell stories in a new and exciting way, to capture photos from a perspective not seen before, and to pay it forward and inspire the next generation of female drone pilots.”
Gemma Alcock: “As a woman in a male populated industry, you will often be instantly underestimated before you even start to speak”
“I am the founder and CEO of SkyBound Rescuer, which is a leading organisation of specialists in the use of drones for public safety, with an aim to optimise drone performance for Emergency Services through our research-driven approach to problem solving. SkyBound Rescuer works with Emergency Services to develop their drone capabilities by researching into best practice, and we work with the drone industry to create better products and services for public safety in the UK and abroad.
“I have always been drawn to male populated activities; I played football as a child, skydived for my University team, beach lifeguarded during my summers, and then entered the drone industry. All of those activities are filled with mostly men/boys. I have always been surrounded by boys and I have never minded. That meant that I wasn’t deterred like some women by the fact that there were very few other women, however, the downside to that was that I wasn’t fully prepared for the challenges of being one of very few women when in a professional setting.
“As a woman in a male populated industry, you will often be instantly underestimated before you even start to speak, especially when you start out in the industry, which I was not expecting. To be clear, this won’t happen with everyone and it won’t happen every time, but it does happen more than it should. My advice here would be that people’s underestimations of you cannot hold you back unless you start believing them.
“If you start underestimating yourself as a result of their bias, then their misconceptions start to seep into your own self-worth, your own confidence, your own ambitions. Your gender does not determine your capabilities, it is your passion, your drive, your work ethic that enables you to succeed. And if you have those things, then you can do it, so believe it and keep believing! Everyone else will eventually believe in you too, because passion and ambition are contagious.”
Emily Bratt: “Our small numbers in this industry have allowed us to form a strong support network; women really do go the extra mile to look out for each other”
“As a geography graduate, I have always said I don’t want to be constrained to my desk. I want to be out there proving what is possible – this is exactly what the UAV industry is all about! With this comes the excitement that no day is ever the same (the industry certainly isn’t normal!). An example of this is Windracers first flight from Solent to the Isle of Wight. Originally a 4-year project, a call up high meant we (DronePrep, Windracers, Consortiq and University of Southampton) had to deliver in less than 2 weeks and we did it! Not knowing what is around the corner keeps us on our toes – it’s exciting!
“My time at DronePrep to date has had some incredible milestones. One that shines the brightest is how we brought together a consortium of Royal Mail, Skyports, what3words (and of course DronePrep) to achieve Royal Mails first ever delivery by drone on the Isle of Mull. Not only did this bring together two ‘rival’ addressing systems but, it bought hope for the future in a time when people needed it most. To put it into perspective, within the first 24 hours that the story broke, there was 111 million clicks!
“I have been surrounded by incredible women in the industry, but I am still aware that the UAV world is dominated by males. Occasionally I have received criticism from men stating that I ‘should not be in the industry’ and that I ‘do not belong here’ which had the potential to knock my confidence. However, I note that these comments do not represent the majority. I have seen and experienced that 99% of those in the industry (both male and female) want you to succeed!
“Our small numbers in this industry have allowed us to form a strong support network; women really do go the extra mile to look out for each other. Whether this be through clubhouse and webinars or meeting up in person for a coffee- nobody is ever alone! Women in Drones is extremely empowering, and I am proud to be a part of it!”
Stacey Dix: “I love turning up on site and achieving a different perspective on a location, being able to obtain shots that only a few years ago were near impossible…unless you had a helicopter”
“I work in the Traffic Data Collection Field, and have done for 10 years. 3 years ago we initially started to utilise drone technology as a tool to assist us in our day to day to work. From there we soon realised using drones not only assisted us in obtaining data but gave the client a high value, cost effective product, that is of superior quality and content than that provided through traditional data collection methods.
“I also gained experience in using tethered drones in order to fly for longer periods of time. Kestrel Surveys was established last March where I combined the two disciplines to become a UK leader in drone and traffic surveys.
“On a personal level using drones as a tool not only enhanced my work, but utilising technologies made it fun and interesting and sometimes nerve wracking when you’re being dive bombed by seagulls! I love turning up on site and achieving a totally different perspective on a location and obtaining shots that only a few years ago were not possible…unless you had a helicopter.”
Lexie Janson: “99% of people are awesome and supportive. While 1% can ruin it for everyone. Most of the time I am meeting with professionals who don’t make a big fuss out of me being a woman. I am a professional – done. But sometimes you get to meet people who are shocked you are a woman”
“I am a professional FPV drone racing pilot as well as videographer and photographer. I use FPV drones and Camera drones to take shots not available with normal cameras. I travel the world racing, and sharing my adventures with my YouTube audience through Vlogs and educational content showing everyone (and most importantly – girls) that everything is possible with work. And that there’s nothing you “can’t do”.
“Working in a male dominated industry, I’d say it’s both empowering and annoying. 99% of people are awesome and supportive. While this 1% can ruin it for everyone. Most of the time I am meeting with professionals who don’t make a big fuss out of me being a woman. I am a professional – done. But sometimes you get to meet people who are shocked you are a woman, ask for your “male colleague” to do the work, or on drone racing events – ask you to go to the spectators area to see how my boyfriend flies” (true story).
“I think women in general get more judgement for the things that don’t matter at all. (Like looks or the way we present ourselves). I am getting many weird comments and messages on socials but at the end of the day – it’s up to me to react. It’s just 1% we need to deal with and it’s already getting much better. I think women have a lot to show and achieve in the drone industry and we can steer it all together in better ways. Both male and female pilots.”
Meg Kummerow: “I’ve worked in a male dominated industry my entire life, but the drone industry a whole other level. I’ve been really lucky to work with really supportive males and have been able to impart my Agricultural knowledge to them which has been amazing”
“I am the founder of Fly the Farm. Fly the Farm provides drones, software and support to those in agriculture as well as to those wishing to provide services to the agricultural industry. Our purpose is to make the process of farmers buying a drone easy. We use our experience within agriculture to understand the needs of our customers, helping them choose the right drone for their needs. We use our knowledge of both agriculture and the drone industry, including regulations, to ensure our customers are fully informed on drone use in their business.
“My proudest achievement so far has to be getting involved in getting one Australian state government to open up spray drone licencing to operators. This was achieved with the assistance of many industry organisations.
“For me, I’ve worked in a male dominated industry my entire life (Agriculture). However, I’ve found the drone industry a whole other level. I’ve been really lucky to work with really supportive males and have been able to impart my Agricultural knowledge to them that has allowed them to progress in their roles.”
If you are a woman who is looking to get into the drone industry, here are some top tips to help you get started:
- Join communities of like-minded people. I can highly recommend you check out Women Who Drone on Facebook, their closed Facebook group allows for lots of networking with other women in the industry.
- Book a course. What are you waiting for? Here at Coptrz we offer a wide range of training courses to get you started on your journey. You can find out more here.
- Get inspired! Find your niche. Get following women in drones on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to see what they are up to and the work they do in the industry.
The list of women in drones who are hugely contributing to the industry could go on and on, and someday your name might be on it, if you put aside your fear, do what you love and put all your heart into it!
If you have any questions about getting into the industry, get in touch today. We will help guide you to starting your journey in the drone industry.
Over and out – from the women in drones at Coptrz.
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