Expressway Cinema Rentals was happy to host alongside BFD Systems, who partnered with Women Who Drone, for a networking event geared toward closing the gender representation gap in the droning industry. According to Women Who Drone’s website:
“Women Who Drone is an online female drone pilot community and media company that inspires, educates and empowers women and girls to join the UAV industry.
We do this by providing one on one, online lessons & workshops, resources, news & reviews, career opportunities and a supportive community of women around the world.
Join us in our mission to expand the presence of women and girls in the UAV industry by sharing our content, sponsoring us or simply reaching out!
We welcome and appreciate the support from all genders in accomplishing our mission.”
This event embodied just that. A mixed crowd came looking for more than cheese and wine (which was delicious!). We learned the droning industry reaches far beyond the cinematography in TV and film and is becoming ubiquitous across a variety of industries.
We all probably had an idea about defense applications of drones in our own military, but as the industry grows, so has the disciplines in which droning has become relevant. Beyond defense and TV & film, drones have saved lives through the utilization of emergency responders and disaster management crews. Drones have other healthcare applications such as delivering drugs, blood, and medical technology in remote, rural areas. In addition to saving the lives of humans, drones can be put into the service of environmental conservation by monitoring endangered animal movements and patterns. It has seen growth and more use in urban planning, agriculture, and weather forecasting; to name a few.
Although droning’s utilizations have grown, the people who make drone piloting are over 90% male. Women Who Drone’s hope is to get drones in the hands of women worldwide through education and their brand ambassador program. It is a program designed “for those that are active drone pilots or enthusiasts who are willing to share their story and passion with other women from around the world”.
BFD Systems is a UAV hardware development and integration company, offering UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) training, maintenance, repairs, consulting and contracting services. The partnership with BFD Systems helped attendees to look behind the curtain. To see women in positions that aren’t only piloting and learn about their background leading them to the industry.
We spoke with a few women to ask what brought them to the event. Karen Cerino told us she is quite optimistic about the number of women entering the field and was inspired by the number of women who came out to see Women Who Drone. Having better representation motivated her to show up and learn more about droning. She said she comes from a tech family, and her father’s influence has helped foster her interest in the industry.
Another attendee, Emily Hines, is an ambassador for Women Who Drone. She started in aviation as a skydiver, then became a pilot of manned aircraft (an important distinction from UAV). Some friends had shown Emily footage of a drone they had flown near her house and says she dove into droning from there. She since has started her own business, Buzz My Property, taking aerial drone photo and video for private and commercial clients.
Hope Nelson, a drone assembler from the BFD team told us her background started in biochemistry before pursuing a career in scientific glass blowing. Throughout her schooling, she learned woodworking and welding and had a roommate that started a drone company. He needed a solder. Hope fondly told us about how she started soldering for him in a closet as she finished up her degree. She found she couldn’t find a satisfying career in scientific glass blowing but already had a great job building drones. She fell in love with electronic assembly and is glad this is the path she took.
As you can see, from an enthusiast to glass blower to skydiver, the camera drone industry attracts people with a wide range of experiences and beginnings. Beyond manufacturing, building, and piloting a drone, there are other crucial positions needed to operate a drone. In film specifically, it takes a village as it were, and those operating positions include:
- Camera Operator
- Assistant Drone Tech
- Location/Mission Planning
Even people who don’t believe they have the right credentials to find a fulfilling hobby or career in the drone industry, don’t get discouraged. Many disciplines are applicable, and the industry is only going to grow from here. We encourage anyone with a passion or even a slight curiosity to learn more about how to find a role that fits in an industry that needs you. Fly on over, and Expressway will point you in the right direction!