Why are so few women flying drones?

In the US it’s estimated that just 5% of drone pilots are women.

In Australia the estimate is just 1-2%, and as of April 2018, there were 1275 men who with full CASA drone operation certification (RePL + ReOC) – and just 15 women.

As men and women typically think so differently (illustrated by the fact that usually I’m asked three very different questions at drone workshops), it is desirable to work towards a more even spread, simply to increase the diversity of thinking.  A wide variety of thinkers is simply good for business.  Drones are the doorway through which many pass on the way to adopting other forms of ag technology, and ag tech will be funadmental in helping Australian agriculture adapt to future challenges.

Why the extreme male/female drone user disparity? I’ve heard various theories. Girls & women:

  • Simply aren’t interested
  • Aren’t as good at mastering technology
  • Lack confidence
  • There aren’t enough role models
  • Peer pressure & society expectations
  • Don’t have enough money to buy drones.

Today I stumbled upon some fascinating global research on what is a very complicated topic. Researchers studied 67 countries and found 51% of girls excelled in reading (25% maths & 24% science). Boys: 42% excelled at maths (38% science & 20% reading). But STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering & maths) tend to lead to careers offering higher incomes. This explains why there is a higher percentage of women heading into STEM careers in countries where equality is the lowest. Because ‘women in countries with higher gender inequality are simply seeking the clearest possible path to financial freedom’ and security.  They’re motivated. Whereas in western countries, higher average incomes and government support for low/no income earners means women are less motivated to pursue a career that isn’t in a field that they most enjoy or naturally excel at. (Those two things being rather chicken-and-egg.)

It’s a conclusion that gells with what I’ve observed as an untrained bystander who works in the arts.   The arts, like conservation, could be described as a middle-class luxury.  I knew that when picking ‘proper career’ university courses in Year 12. It’s why I deliberately steered away from a low & erratically paid art career (but gravitated back there, because I could).

Typical scene at a drone or tech event – few women in sight (Interdrone, Las Vegas – great presenters & audience, but relatively few women.)

I never thought it was realistic that there would be 50/50 men/women flying drones or involved in other kinds of ag technology.  So many boys show a fascination with technology well before school age. It doesn’t take objective research to see that men will always be the majority in these fields. However the abovementioned research suggests that in societies where women’s equality is closer to equal, the average standard of living is higher and there is income support – the realistic achievable aim would be to raise the percentage of Australian women in STEM careers from the current 16% up to the 24-25% who excel at maths or science (global average; so whatever the percentage is in Australia, presumably around that).

But the 98-99 male drone users for every 1-2 females is so extremely low it’s reasonable to presume that raising the number of role models (and confidence) would result in more women flying drones; who otherwise would not have considered doing so.  Perhaps not to 1 in 4, but surely 10% is achievable.

It’s unhelpful to pretend that men and women have identical brains or that one is ‘better’ than the other. What we want to see is everyone being able to put their natural abilities to use and receive equal opportunities and payment, and as much diversity as is naturally possible.  The drone industry is a long way from that.

Read more about the “The more gender equality, the fewer women in STEM” research in the Atlantic newspaper.

Drone information blog posts

  • I’ve written a number of posts containing information I wish I could have found at the outset. The drone topics below are either not covered by anyone else at all, incompletely or inaccurately.
  • All the information in these posts is included in Rural Drone Academy training, to some degree, but with the addition of many other useful topics, entertaining examples, participant Q & A’s and networking.
  1. Rural Drone Academy workshops & training – want to lift your flying up to another level, solve some drone issues, or you need a hand to gets started? These workshops are useful for all skill levels, ages and backgrounds.
  2. Next workshops plus previous events – upcoming events you can attend. Previous events are also listed, which will give you an idea of the regions covered, themes and the diversity organisations hosting them.
  3. Comments from participants – forthright opinions from people who have attended drone sessions held in four states.
  4. The principles of drone safety & laws – essential reading for every drone pilot. Accompanied by impressive ‘fail’ stories, during Rural Drone Academy training. (Information on this page.)
  5. How to set up a drone business – how to steam ahead – use time, energy & money to maximum effect – and avoid pitfalls. Included in drone workshops in detail, if applicable to participant interests.
  6. What is the best drone to buy for a beginner?  Objective information to help you decide. The internet is full of drones that have hardly been flown because they didn’t suit the buyer’s purpose. Don’t join them!
  7. What is the best drone to buy? Comprehensive information on the most common consumer models to help drone pilots upgrading or seeking a drone for a specific task.
  8. Is a Crystal Sky screen worth buying?  The pros and cons compared to using phones and tablets as screens, from an objective point of view.

If you are interested in attending Rural Drone Academy training don’t hesitate to contact me by email or ring the business-hours phone number listed below.

PLEASE NOTE: As applies to the rest of this website – the content on this page is protected by copyright.

Tags: ,