It’s no secret that the drone industry has always been an (unintentionally) male-dominated environment. But things are changing and with more women gaining their commercial drone pilot permission (PfCO) each year in the UK, this shift in balance can only spell good things for the industry on both a national and global scale.
Even though there has always been equal opportunity for both genders, statistics lead us to believe there’s a higher volume of male drone pilots flying commercially. More recently, as one of the leading NQE training providers in the UK, we have seen an influx of women flying through their commercial drone training to successfully gain the Permission for Commercial Operations.
This comes at a crucial time for the drone industry, where drones are fast-becoming part of the ‘toolbox’ for everyday operations across multiple industries and applications. In many cases, this is almost a revolutionary improvement to the way in which businesses operate, saving valuable resources like time, manpower and money, whilst increasing safety for operative personnel whether they be based on a construction site or a remote, complex filmset.
But in order for the drone industry to evolve to its fullest potential, there’s no question that the balance needs to shift so we see a more diverse workspace.
“The industry needs the boldest and brightest contributors to promote its growth and ensure longevity. Women are fundamental in building a true community.”Randall Warnas, Global sUAS Segment Leader at FLIR Systems
So, what’s holding women back from entering the drone industry?
“There is preoccupation in the drone industry that women’s work is subpar to men’s, which comes off as discouraging,” explains filmmaker Athanasia Lykoudi.
“This is a pity, since we all have the same capable machines in our disposal, the same access to education and creativity is gender agnostic. There are opportunities for everyone and if you are a woman just starting, I believe it is more than possible to catch up to seasoned pilots quickly.”
And with the latter, we couldn’t agree more. There’s no time like the present and with emerging online communities aimed at female drone professionals, such as Women Who Drone and Women of Commercial Drones, the drone industry is becoming more accessible for women by the minute.
Interview: Elena Buenrostro, Founder of Women Who Drone
We sat down with Elena Buenrostro, Founder and CEO of Women Who Drone – an online female drone pilot community and media company whose aim is to inspire, educate and empower women and girls to join the UAV industry – to get her take on what the drone industry holds for women and why now is the time to get your foot in the door:
Can you tell us a bit about the creation of Women Who Drone and your mission?
Women Who Drone is an online female drone pilot community. We help women create a view from above through experiences and career paths with drones.
We do this by providing education resources from in-person lessons and workshops, online courses and drone curriculum for middle and high schools in NYC.
Additionally, we are building the next generation of female drone pilots globally through our pilot database in order to move the needle on the gender gap.
How rapidly has your community grown since its creation?
Women Who Drone was founded out of a need to provide a space for women within the drone industry by also to join the drone industry as a pilot. Since our inception in October of 2017:
- Our audience has grown to over 30k fans on social media;
- We have a growing active female drone pilot’s community 600+ globally;
- 58 Brand Ambassadors from 28 different countries worldwide;
- We have featured over 400 women’s content on our Instagram channel;
- Over 30 women apart of our Pilot Spotlight blog and video series;
- We have taught over 100 girls in schools across NYC the basics of Drone Technology;
- We have also been featured in Fast Company for “Taking Female Drone Operation into New Heights” and The Verge, for “Expanding visibility for female drone pilots“;
- We are also partnered with Getty Images and launched the Women Who Drone Collection which now gives women the opportunity to monetize their drone content.
- We are also sponsored by DJI who provides us with drone to teach our workshops.
What do you believe the future holds for WWD?
The future for WWD is exciting. Our ultimate goal is to move the needle on the gender gap and we are determined to do this by telling more stories about more women who are making moves in the drone industry, but also teaching more girls in schools about drone technology. In 5 years’ time, we will be on the forefront of drone education for girls nationwide working closely with girl’s empowerment programs to bring more role models to the classroom and provide scholarships and grants for girls looking to enter the field.
Do you have any advice for women looking to pursue a career as a commercial drone pilot?
Join our community, there are many women who will inspire, educate and empower you!
Do not be afraid of the technology and do not get discouraged because it’s a male dominated field.
Fly often, stay up to date with drone laws and always be on the side of safety no matter what.
Lastly, never ever let anyone tell you that you cannot do something!
How to become a qualified commercial drone pilot in the UK
So, if that has given you the boost you needed to get started on your journey to becoming a professional drone pilot, then look no further. We have partnered with Women Who Drone to offer £50 off our UK-leading Online PfCO course. Simply enter code WWD50 at the checkout to redeem your discount.
The Online PfCO aims to qualify you from basic drone awareness to commercial compliance with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to help you gain the Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) to undertake commercial drone work in the UK.