How many female drone pilots are there?
How many female drone pilots are out there in the United States?
The Federal Aviation Administration in January updated its U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics report, which is an annual study published that contains detailed airmen statistics not published in other FAA reports. And the data provides some pretty interesting insight about the number of female drone pilots in the U.S. (and the number of female commercial and air transport pilots, too).
And the data shows that there are 24,293 female drone pilots in the U.S. That means women make up 7.9% of all certified remote pilots.
The statistics that show how many female drone pilots exist come from broader data about airmen (both pilot and non-pilot) and were obtained by the FAA from the official airmen certification records maintained at FAA’s Aeronautical Center, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They were then analyzed by Women and Drones, which is an online drone community and support network that also runs the annual Women in Emerging Aviation Technologies Awards, a related Hall of Fame, an annual in-person summit and its own drone diversity study, among other projects.
Women and Drones did all sorts of number crunching to better dig into what the female drone pilot area looks like, and where within the U.S. most women drone pilots are located. They broke out number of female drone pilots by state, and it turns out that California (which is where I live!) is home to the most female drone pilots of any U.S. state. Here are the three states with the most female drone pilots, according to the Women and Drones analysis of FAA data:
- California: 2,508
- Florida: 2,060
- Texas: 1,629
Of course, note that the figures analyzing how many female drone pilots by state do somewhat represent a population map, so California at No. 1 shouldn’t be all that surprising. California is the most populous state, followed by Texas at No. 2 and Florida at No. 3. You can check out the number of female drone pilots in your state by visiting the Women and Drones analysis page here.
Women and Drones also broke out the average age of female drone pilots. Despite the stereotype that tech is for the youths, the average female drone pilot is aged 38.
There are also more female drone pilots than the number of female commercial pilots and air transport pilots combined.
Again, this metric might be perhaps unsurprising as the barrier to entry to become a drone pilot is far lower. The Part 107 test to earn your Remote Pilot Certificate is often described as a pared-down version of the written test pilots must take to be able to fly piloted aircraft. There’s also a practical component to fly piloted aircraft in the U.S., and that’s not the case for drone pilots (though other countries such as Canada do have a practical component for drone pilots, too).
Another encouraging metric is that the number of female drone pilots in the U.S. is growing.
|Year||Number of female drone pilots||Overall number of drone pilots||% of female drone pilots|
While women drone pilots are still a small minority at just 7.9%, that number has increased every single year since the data has been tracked. In 2016, just 3.9% of all drone pilots are women, but that number is growing.
On a percentage basis, the rate of all drone pilots who are women has doubled. And on a numbers basis, it has increased by about 30x. The rate of overall drone pilots has increased by a still-impressive, but not nearly as high 15x.
In short, female drone pilots are joining in the industry at a far faster rate than men these days.
As someone who is putting together a public safety volunteer UAS program, I want to center our program on equity and having the drone team being representative of the community that is served. Having this data is great and a needed first step. But the next questions are: “why are the numbers this way, and what can we do about it?”
I would welcome others’ thoughts about how to get more women and girls into drones!