how many female drone pilots US FAA

How many female drone pilots are there in 2024?

How many female drone pilots are out there in the United States in 2024?

The Federal Aviation Administration in March 2024 updated its U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics report. The FAA updates the report annually with 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. It also sheds light on the number of female commercial and air transport pilots, too).

This fresh batch of data released on March 7, 2024 shows that there were 30,935 female pilots in the U.S. in 2023 (which is the most recent set of data). That’s a huge increase from the figure reported in 2023. Then, the FAA said there were 24,293 female drone pilots in the U.S. as of 2022.

And the share of female, remote pilots is increasing, too. According to the 2023 data, women made up 7.9% of all certified remote pilots. But as of the new 2024 data, they make up 8.39%.

The statistics that show how many female drone pilots exist come from broader data about airmen (both pilot and non-pilot). The FAA obtained the data through official airmen certification records maintained at FAA’s Aeronautical Center, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Then another group Women and Drones, which is an online drone community and support network, analyzed the data. Women and Drones 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 compiled a neat graphic visualizing the data. (Graphic courtesy of Women and Drones)

Women and Drones did all sorts of number crunching to better dig into what the female drone pilot area looks like. The study also showed where within the U.S. most women drone pilots are located.

Where do female drone pilots live?

The Women and Drones analysis broke out number of female drone pilots by state. It turns out that California (which is where I live!) is home to the most female drone pilots of any U.S. state. These three states have the most female drone pilots, according to the Women and Drones analysis of FAA data:

  • California: 3,128
  • Texas: 2,651
  • Florida: 2,559

Meanwhile, these three U.S. states have the fewest female drone pilots, according to the Women and Drones analysis of FAA data:

  • Rhode Island: 64
  • Vermont: 78
  • Delaware: 87

Check out the number of female drone pilots in your state by visiting the Women and Drones analysis page here.

Of course, note that the figures analyzing how many female drone pilots by state do somewhat represent a population map. Given that, California at No. 1 shouldn’t be all that surprising. After all, California is the most populous state, followed by Texas at No. 2 and Florida at No. 3. That’s the exact same ranking in terms of female drone pilots. That said, the least-populated states don’t necessarily have the fewest drone pilots. Wyoming is the least-populated state, but still has 108 female drone pilots. Then comes Vermont, which unsurprisingly has few drone pilots. But the third least-populated state, Alaska, has surprisingly many female drone pilots — 333 to be exact.

The rate of female drone pilots is increasing

(Graphic courtesy of Women and Drones)

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. Experts describe the Part 107 test to earn your Remote Pilot Certificate 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. 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? The number of female drone pilots in the U.S. is growing.

YearNumber of female drone pilotsOverall number of drone pilots% of female drone pilots
201679320,3623.9%
20173,46269,1665%
20186,188106,3215.8%
201910,818160,3026.7%
202014,882206,3227.2%
202119,366254,5877.6%
202224,293304,2567.9%
202330,935368,6338.39%

While women drone pilots are still a small minority at just 8.4%, 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.

Check out the rest of the Women and Drones analysis here.

One Comment

  • Rakesh Bharania says:

    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!

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