Drone organisations are known for being prominently dominated by men, which is shown through statistics time and time again. This might be because the drone industry is also a mix of being halfway in the tech industry and the aviation industry, which are mostly made up of men.
This makes breaking into the industry difficult for young women, and many are intimidated by the possibility of being surrounded by men when they’re starting out in their careers. Still, gender diversity brings a lot of potential benefits when it comes to the innovativeness of teams and company culture, which is a huge benefit that organisations can’t afford to miss out on. The drone industry is still young, which means there’s still time to support the careers of young women and help them feel comfortable, which can lead to teams bringing a fresh and more innovative perspective to the table.
In this article, we’ll cover a few different examples of how to promote and support young women as they begin their careers in the drone industry.
What do women expect from drone organisations?
It’s important for companies to create policies that support and accommodate the needs of all employees, including women. Studies have shown that a third of recruiters prefer to hire men in their 20s or 30s compared to women in the same age range, which comes with the negative stereotype that women might leave their positions to have children and become full-time mothers. This illustrates the ever-present discrimination that happens against women and mothers in the workplace and how it remains a topic that’s relevant to this day.
So, how can organisations approach this problem?
Despite efforts to increase inclusion in the workplace, many industries, especially in STEM-related fields, struggle with gender inequality. While some organisations may believe they are providing equal opportunities for all candidates, the reality is often much different. Factors such as the language used in job postings and the overall company culture can create barriers for women seeking employment in these industries.
Many drone organisations think recruiting women means giving them an opportunity to apply for the same jobs as men. Still, that’s often not the case because simple things like how a job advertisement is written or even the wording on the company’s homepage mean that a woman might not apply. Just looking at the company or job post might make someone feel like an organisation is not offering a company culture that’s supportive of the careers of women.
A few examples of this could be using wording like “rocket star” or “natural leader” that might, at first, seem harmless, but come with connotations of masculinity, which means women who want an inclusive job culture might not feel comfortable joining a company that uses such terms. For STEM-related fields, including the drone industry, it means things we often say and take for granted or view as harmless could cause people unfamiliar with the industry to avoid moving into it.
That means something as simple as saying “unmanned aerial vehicles,” the most often used term for UAVs, might scare off a young woman who is freshly out of university. This is because most societies are currently making an outward effort to move away from this language, even if it has been commonly used in the past. On the other hand, what some people see as impractical, like “uncrewed aerial vehicles,” is actually going to make others feel more comfortable, especially those coming into the industry straight out of university.
Ultimately, it’s not about how things have been done before, but how small changes can make people unfamiliar with the drone industry more comfortable.
Company culture can change everything.
In a Gallup poll of 13,000 employees, 52% of the women said that diversity and inclusion were important factors for them when deciding to join a new organisation. For men, this number dropped to 39%. For male-dominated industries looking to capitalise on the innovation diversity can bring, this means that the lack of desire to have diversity in an organisation is likely what is causing teams and industries to fail continuously at recruiting young women.
For those outside of the aviation and drone industries, you can try to imagine that you’re a young woman who recently got a degree in software engineering for artificial intelligence. During her degree, she was interested in how beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) or detect and avoid systems (DAA) can be powered by AI-driven technologies.
When she starts looking for a job in the drone industry for the first time on a platform like LinkedIn, and she’s confronted with people of similar ages, backgrounds and genders, it’s hard for her not to feel intimidated. If she was also used to more gender-neutral language from a university setting, seeing things like “unmanned” might also make her feel like the company culture isn’t progressive, when it’s simply a difference in experiences. This means that organisations need to recognise these differences and curate their culture for multiple generations of women with vastly different experiences.
That also includes focusing on the struggle that modern women still go through, like microaggressions or the wealth gap. Wells Fargo economists found that “Never-married women earned just 92 percent of what never-married men did last year, and have 29 percent less wealth”. This wealth gap can be attributed to a number of factors including hiring trends from HR professionals who tend to hire women only when they are overqualified and men when they are underqualified due to gender biases. While this is an uncomfortable topic, it needs to be addressed before an organisation can kick off their recruiting processes for women.
From the aviation and tech industries to the drone industry
One of the benefits of the drone industry is that its ecosystem is very new, and the future is still being created. Most drone professionals, at this point, have come from the aviation industry or the tech industry, depending on their background and interests. Unfortunately, these industries are already fairly old and established, and as with any industry that is at least a few decades old, they bring equally old problems with them.
Although most of the workforce in the drone industry is coming from these other industries that are fairly old, the possibility of building new and equitable structures is available for us as an entire ecosystem.
That means taking on new recruiting methods that others haven’t done before or are out of the norm for traditional HR professionals. Just as the tech industry did away with their HR departments for people operations teams, the drone industry can begin new methods for recruiting women and making them feel comfortable in this innovative technical industry.
While having female engineers is important for developing products and services, hiring women in other positions like sales and marketing is essential for reaching out to potential customers and generating revenue. A diverse team that includes women in both technical and non technical roles can help a company succeed in a competitive environment.
To start, drone organisations need to hire and recruit young women intentionally. This means avoiding traditional pathways for recruitment, like bringing a small piece of paper to your stand at a drone event that’s made up of 90% male participants or posting on social media and hoping for the best. Instead, supporting organisations like Women behind the Drone Revolution or focusing your recruiting efforts on female-led initiatives in the aviation and tech industries means that the overwhelming majority of people who see the job advertisement in the first place are women.
This can result in attracting more women to the industry who might have been uncertain of the company’s culture or presentation when they saw the original job posting on social media or during an event, compared to men who are more likely to feel already welcome regardless of the company’s gender diversity initiatives.
Working towards the future of the drone industry alongside young professional women
Gender diversity in the workplace benefits the organisation in numerous ways. For example, a more diverse pool of talented individuals can lead to more innovative and creative solutions to problems and help a company better understand how to connect with a wider range of customers and clients.
Ultimately, by working alongside women and listening to them as they speak about current problems, you open your organisation to new perspectives and help ensure the drone industry isn’t carrying old issues from the tech or aviation industries. We have the chance to build something new and equitable, but we need to work on this intentionally to make sure this is possible in the future.
If you’re interested in letting young female professionals work for your organisation, feel free to look at the DroneTalks Jobs packages, where you can curate your organisation’s image with team pictures and descriptions, so young women know that your culture is inclusive and interested in supporting an industry that’s open to all.