Sally French, well known for her popular Drone Girl website, will be a panelist at the upcoming InterDrone Conference in September. The topic? Women in the drone industry. Gender equality is an important topic for all of us. As the father of two daughters I am passionate about ensuring a bright future for them and ensuring that the world sees them as individuals is a key to that.
Sally’s website starts her bio with this: “If you spot a drone in the sky and the pilot on the ground stands tall at 4’10”, is wearing a sundress and has a cup of coffee nearby, then you’ve probably found Drone Girl.”, so we begin here with our interview questions.
Q. Are you really 4’10” or is that only if you are standing on your tip-toes?
That’s not entirely true; if you include the drone, I can be as tall as 1,000 feet! ?
Q. At InterDrone you will be speaking about Women and Drones (aka gender equality) which is a very important. In your opinion, are enough women getting involved in this industry?
I’m not sure if “are enough women getting involved” is the right question. I don’t think it has to be a quota. It doesn’t matter to me if 1,000,000 women in the world are involved with drones or if just 1 woman is. If it only happens that 1 woman in the world cares about drones, then that’s enough for me.
What really matters is are 100% of those women getting treated with respect? For the most part, the industry has been really open and accepting of women. However, there is a small percentage that is not. Look at marketing campaigns, “booth babes”, the executive leadership at drone companies (which for the majority of drone companies is 80-100% male), and even just the word unmanned (which is male-centric in itself). Those factors all contribute to pushing women out of the drone industry, when maybe they would have otherwise been a part of it.
I’ve seen drone companies market sales on their sites with language like “this drone is now 20% off, which will surely make your wife happy.” While on the surface I don’t really find this offensive, it implies that men buy and fly drones, and women don’t. That’s not true! But until the rest of the industry stops perceiving women as some sort of anomaly, then there’s still work to do.
The only quota I’m working to reach is gaining respect for 100% of the women in this industry.
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