Industry Leaders Encourage Girls to Pursue Careers in Drones

Contributed by Claire LaBeaux for Drone360 and Women And Drones

The drone industry is literally taking off, as the technology evolves and new applications are imagined, developed, and refined. Women have key roles in many organizations that focus on drones, also known as UAS (unmanned aerial systems). To raise awareness of the important work that women are doing, Women And Drones, a professional association, recently teamed up with the online magazine Drone360 to publish a list of Women to Watch in UAS.

Tim Kidwell, Editor in Chief of Drone360 said, “The variety of applications of UAS technology is truly incredible. We strongly encourage girls who are just starting their paths of education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to consider applying their talent and intellect to this exciting new field. We hope that, by seeing the strength and vision of these women, they’ll understand that they can succeed in the UAS industry.”

The Women to Watch in UAS are from four different countries and utilize drones and robotics in fields ranging from civil engineering to public health to drone racing. Read about all the women selected and their work.

“The list emphasizes the integral role of women in the success of the drone industry. We’re striving for a not-distant future where UAS leads science fields by offering equal opportunities for women to succeed as they demonstrate their abilities alongside their male counterparts,” said Sharon Rossmark, Founder and CEO of Women And Drones. “We’re looking forward to celebrating the advancement of women in every facet of our emerging industry.”

Leah La Salla Mary Wohnrade Helena Samsioe
Leah La Salla Mary Wohnrade Helena Samsioe

All the women who were named to the list hope that girls with an interest in science will consider working in the UAS field. Leah La Salla, founder of Astral AR, says it’s tough to know exactly how she found what to study, but she was certainly influenced by learning advanced customized fabrication in her dad's super-precision tool and die shop. “I think growing up around specialized tools and expertise in various trades and crafts with the chance for early extracurricular learning was a great thing,” she said.

Mary Wohnrade is a Principal Engineer and Founder of Wohnrade Civil Engineers; she suggested that girls who are interested in UAS technology consider an education in both STEM and aviation, and also get exposure to business-related degrees to prepare for a wide range of possibilities.

Helena Samsioe, CEO and Founder GLOBHE, agrees on the benefits of a “mixed education,” suggesting an engineering degree and a GIS degree, or a tech degree and a humanitarian degree. Her advice: “Consider something that allows you to apply your tech knowledge in another setting as well.” It’s also important to work in a field that you love. “Besides the educational perspective, you should have a love of drones so that you actively keep up with developments and fly your own drone in your free time. As in anything, try to follow your passion and you'll become good at it.”

La Salla also believes in following your passions. “Aeronautical nerdery is totally fun! There are some really smart, diverse people attracted to innovation in the UAS world who can be fun to work with.” She says that early entrepreneur programs being offered in some high schools offer a way to learn how to take risks, and fail, and start again. She says, “Those programs help youths position themselves to do great things in the world of innovation, whether through public service or private enterprise – and especially girls, who have to leap over more barriers in this world.”

Wohnrade encourages girls to take college credit courses during high school. She suggested getting involved in STEM-related after-school activities young – even in elementary school. “Continue those activities on into high school. Don’t be deterred by any potential negative gender biases,” she said. “If you’re considering a STEM career, stay focused on your goals, don’t be intimidated, and always believe in yourself.”

UAS are improving processes for everything from construction to agriculture to news reporting, and they’re entertaining people through photos and movies and racing. In this brand-new industry, there’s an opportunity for women and organizations to break the gender stereotypes that dominate science careers and the STEM workplace. As demonstrated by these Women to Watch, the world of UAS development and application is wide open to every person who has the drive to learn and persist.

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