Women continue to pioneer in the drone industry, providing outsized impact in the historically male-dominated field of aviation. At Skydio, we have started making moves to promote the increase in gender equity that so many in the drone industry have worked toward for years. These numbers are similarly mirrored in aviation and publicly highlighted in tech.
Increasing the number of women in tech is on the hearts and minds of many and the Skydio team is taking action. It was through early interactions between a female customer and a couple of Skydiennes (this is what the ladies of Skydio have named themselves) when they realized the immense opportunity to make an impact. It was on this call when the customer explained that in her entire career she had never been greeted by another woman (let alone two) when entering a meeting regarding drone technology. In fact, in all of our years combined there were many stories where one of us was the only woman with a seat at the table.
This interaction led to a deep dive into Skydio’s customer data along with industry reports to learn more about the gender gap and analyze where we could make an impact.
According to the FAA’s Aeronautical Center Data, as of the end of 2019 there were 160,302 registered Remote Pilots, of which only 10,818 licenses belonged to women. That’s a mere 6.7%. That’s less than one egg in a carton of a dozen. These numbers are equally as dismal when looking at commercial pilots where 7% are women and 6.6% of private pilots licenses are held by women. With this information on hand, we looked internally at what Skydio’s data could tell us about how our customers were dispersed among men and women. Looking at Skydio 2 customer data, we found that roughly 5% of Skydio 2’s were purchased by women while 95% were from men.
These numbers were determined by using the top 100 most common male and female names.
Social media stats were also disheartening with less than 9% of female followers across Facebook and Instagram. The largest female presence was found via website traffic, which at least gave us the notion that women are interested in Skydio’s products, but why the attrition?
There are a lot of variables that contribute to a consumer’s purchasing decision. These range from expected barriers of entry such as cost and product requirements to very personal and psychological considerations such as "Is this product too technical for me to learn?" or anxiety around how the user may be perceived when using the product if they aren’t already an expert. A sentiment mirrored by Junior Olympic Skier and Skydio Ambassador Lynsey Dyer who spoke in a TEDx about how “women tend to take fewer risks and won't take the plunge if they can't "deliver 100%."
To better understand barriers of entry, we conducted a brief survey of the women at Skydio regarding their flying habits and product perceptions. Per our survey, we found that 33.4% of women at Skydio weren't confident enough in their flying skills to fly at all or didn't know how to fly. We want to lead by example, we want to inspire other women to take chances but first we have to start with our own community and encourage the women at Skydio to take flight.
The beauty is that the difficulty does not lie in actually flying the Skydio 2. Skydio does the flying for you while allowing you to focus on your activity. Whether you are training for the Olympics, inspecting infrastructure, or just learning how to ride a bike, Skydio will be by your side seamlessly capturing the moment while you achieve your goals on the ground. All said, this makes our mission to introduce drones to new audiences even more achievable as we take the stress out of flying and put our energy behind education and enablement.
One thing we aren’t shy of is enthusiasm for our products and ambition to break through barriers. About 90% of Skydienne’s expressed interest in obtaining their UAS pilot license. With this knowledge, we decided to take charge and spearhead an internal Part 107 training program. This program provides educational resources, a flight support network, and a judgement free learning space in preparation for the Part 107 exam. A curriculum that will be rolled out to all employees later this year. This program aims to not only provide the support to become drone experts but it also lays the foundation for the female drone community at Skydio and beyond.
We believe that Empowered Women, Empower Women. This is just the beginning of several initiatives Skydio is embarking on to encourage women and girls to get out and fly. To all the ladies out there, don't let anyone tell you can't do something. You never know when your courage will inspire those around you to take action.
If you have questions about drones, getting your Part 107, or looking for support + community join us on LinkedIn in the Skydiennes group.
Happy International Women's Day!