The Women of Commercial Drones are addressing gender disparity in tech – and the drone industry – head-on. In an op-ed by the Women of Commercial Drones organization, published by Drone360 magazine, the writers say that “it’s not enough for companies to simply assert the value of gender balance and a diversified culture. We have to take concrete steps towards the achievement of this goal in order to produce meaningful changes to our workplace.”
Gretchen West, one of the co-founders of the Women of Commercial Drones and a leading voice throughout the industry, says that the group wrote the article to move beyond arguments on social media and towards a solution for gender diversity in the industry.
“The lack of women in leadership roles, women speaking on panels, women participating in working groups in the drone and robotics industries is an ongoing problem when there are hundreds of capable and intelligent women in these markets,” says West. “Our goal is to encourage more diversity and help women be successful.”
“Groups like the Women of Commercial Drones were created partly with thanks to the various drone tradeshows hosting “Women in Drones” luncheons and networking events where we’ve been able to connect and support each other’s career growth through mentorship and sharing of opportunities. We want to move beyond the negative and belittling comments we have seen on social media outlets and start a more meaningful conversation about helping women take more prominent roles in this industry.”
After pointing out the disparities in leadership roles thoughout the tech industry, the article calls for the robotics and drone industry to “act now” to create inclusive organizations – and offers concrete points on how to achieve the goal.
“First, organizations must ensure that talented women of all backgrounds are given meaningful opportunities to serve in technical and leadership roles within their organizations or on corporate boards,” says the article, and goes on to point out that a “meaningful opportunity” has impact: “Managers must ensure that women of all stripes are given opportunities to lead important meetings, speak publicly on behalf of the organization, and to otherwise begin to see themselves as leaders,” say the authors.
Second, the article addresses the need for workplaces to provide networking and resources – and to set the tone from the top of the organization. “Employee resource groups that are supportive of women in tech not only provide an opportunity for women to congregate and provide each other with much-needed support and morale, they also send an important message from leadership to its employees: Diversity is our priority,” says the article.
Finally, the op-ed suggests that organizations invest in the next generation of women in tech – “creating a pipeline of talented women to fill tomorrow’s leadership roles.”
“We, the women of the robotics and drone industry, believe that our organizations can demonstrate their trust and respect in our leadership by giving us new opportunities to serve and grow, and we believe that we all must have the faith and conviction to invest in the next generation of women leaders.”
Women of Commercial Drones is a resource group for women in the field. Founded by prominent drone industry figures Gretchen West and Lisa Ellman of law firm Hogan Lovells, and Trumbull Unmanned CEO and Founder Dyan Gibbens, the organization’s goal is to “encourage women to be bold in pursuit of their careers in this market.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.