Commercial drone development and sales are on the rise, but the number of women in leadership positions in this space, or just generally in technology, is not. This has been a common and growing theme across the United States, but is particularly evident in Silicon Valley.
Earlier this year, the InterDrone conference hosted a Women in Drones luncheon with a panel of…well, women in drones. Moderated by Lisa Ellman, partner at Hogan Lovells, the panel included me in my first official engagement with Hogan Lovells, Dyan Gibbens of Trumbull Unmanned, Karen DiMeo with the FAA and Sally French, aka The Drone Girl. The discussion was lively and touched on many topics including mentorship and STEM. At the end of the panel, we all got a nice group shot and vowed to make this “a thing”.
The Drone World Expo drilled down more specifically and hosted a panel discussion on Women of Commercial Drones, which was co-moderated by me and Lisa and included Lia Reich from PrecisionHawk, Kristen Helsel from CyPhy Works, Eileen Shibley from Monarch and Nancy Egan from 3D Robotics. Another great discussion and this time men were included and asked some thought-provoking questions. It was a welcome surprise to see the men so engaged on this topic!
At the end of the session, we again open-endedly talked about making this “a thing” to continue the dialogue.
So we’ve made it “a thing”.
Building on those recent events and discussions, Lisa and I decided to run with the momentum and we created the Women of Commercial Drones Meetup. We’re already working on so many industry-advancing activities so why not another one! We will both serve as co-executive directors of the Commercial Drone Alliance (once launched early in 2016) which will enable commercial end user enterprises around the world integrate drones into business operations. We’re both on the National Advisory Board for UAVUS which represents individual end users and operators. And we’re both leaders in Hogan Lovells’ Global UAS Group. We both have a strong passion for working through the challenges of commercial drone operation to grow the industry and make it accessible to all. And now we want to help women work through the challenges they face in this industry as well.
But we aren’t interested in doing this alone! We just took the step to formalize a group, but we want and need others to join and be active participants. We want your ideas, your experience, your leadership to help grow this activity – hopefully even beyond a meetup one day. Let’s work together to establish this activity and make it meaningful!
Your first step is to join the Women of Commercial Drones Meetup and come together with us to discuss challenges, share achievements and collaborate on ways to help mentor each other and younger generations of women. With a specific focus on women interested in commercial enterprise/business with drones, we want to encourage women to be bold in pursuit of their careers in this market. Let’s elevate the conversation and have some fun supporting each other!
Join the Women of Commercial Drones Meetup today! As we grow, we’ll host meetings throughout the country where there is critical mass and if you’re willing to host in your location, please speak up.