An examination of the exclusion of female consumers in the drone industry. As women are encouraged to venture into exploring a new technology, drone usage will become more acceptable and promote empowerment. New functions for drones await to be discovered as more users become adept to flying and utilizing these robots as useful tools.
Drone industry leaves opportunity for growth among female consumers
Let’s talk about drones and photography. These flying robots are becoming more commonly spotted along your morning hike through neighboring hillsides. The viewpoint that a drone can capture at an aerial range is breathtaking and captivating. With the advent of new technologies these machines are increasingly more accessible to the average consumer, whether usage is for professional purposes or as a hobbyist.
The drone industry is revolutionizing faster than the law can adapt. The FAA itself has run into recent problems in efforts to regulate the skies, losing the March 2017, Taylor vs. Huerta court case due to a law they[the FAA] had enacted in previous years.
Here’s a quick break down in a timeline of events.
-In 2012 the FAA and Congress passed a law called the Modernization and Reform Act. Section 336 which prohibits any further regulations over hobbyist droning.
-Then in 2015 on the brink of the end of year holiday season and as drone usage became more popular, cheaper, and accessible, the FAA introduced The Registration Rule requiring hobbyists to register their aircraft prior to flight with a $5 registration fee.
-Fast forward to 2016, John Taylor, a resident of the Washington D.C. area was flying his drone as a hobbyist. The FAA claimed he was subject to being fined for not registering his aircraft prior to his flight.
-In court this past March 2017, John Taylor won the court case against the FAA stating that the Registration Rule was wrongfully enacted in the first place as it was in direct violation of the previous 2012 Modernization and Reform Act.
As the case of Taylor vs. Huerta has demonstrated, it is difficult to foresee what complications or issues might arise when new technology has been introduced to the masses. One noteworthy issue we can predict, due to what we have observed in the demographics of the adoption and trends in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, is the inequality in the gender ratio among drone consumers. With statistics showing that more than 90% of the market consists of male consumers according to Mike Thorpe, founder of Drones Plus, the industry should capitalize on capturing the other part of the untapped population. Not only is the photography industry dominated by males but much of the industry advertising caters towards male consumers, featuring young boys and men in their ad campaigns. Sure, this can be argued as practical and strategic, but focusing on capturing female consumers will not only raise profits for drone manufacturers and vendors with the opportunity of selling to untapped markets, but it will also create acceptability, addressing the negative stigma around drones as more of the population becomes familiar with them, in turn increasing the conversion rate of those who may have once been opposed to drones.
As a female drone user, I have personally had experiences that underlined the gender disparity among drone users. When my family first found out I fly drones they disapprovingly made comments about people fearing for their privacy as drones became more popular. A few weeks later I showed my parents how to fly and even let my dad take the controller for a few minutes while I supervised. Now whenever I visit my parents, my dad asks to go flying and my mom wants to accompany me on my shoots.
In another personal account, a few weeks ago as I was adding the propellers to my drone pre flight, a passerby made a comment about having never seen a “girl with a drone before.” Indeed, I’ve ran into many other drone users but have yet to personally meet a fellow female pilot as well. It is an industry dominated by men which presents an exciting opportunity to encourage females to utilize this technology as an avenue and tool to assist them in their creativity, work, and empowerment.
Photography and film are the current primary industries in which drones are used. By encouraging the closing of the gender gap between users we benefit from having a diverse representation of photographers and cinematographers to capture unique images and vantage points. Additionally, these devices lend a hand to the development of other industries as well. Drones are ideal when inspecting hazardous conditions such as examining a region that could have been exposed to toxic chemicals, areas hit by natural disaster, used for search and rescue efforts, agricultural monitoring, and delivering time sensitive medicines like epinephrine.
The fact is this technology gives us access to a new plane in which we can operate. Amazon has recently explored using drones as a delivery method with their Amazon PrimeAir beta testing. On December 7, 2016 they completed their first air delivery with a package weighing in less than 5 pounds in Cambridge, England. Of course, there remain many logistics to iron out, such as the sharing of airspace as this industry picks up, however we have managed to build a complex and functioning network of highways in the past. There is an infinite amount of functions for drones waiting to be discovered. Neglecting to include half of the population may leave some of those avenues unexplored without diverse representation.
As I wait for the rest of the drone world to catch up, I’ll continue to capture aerial photography of my surroundings as everything looks incredible from a bird’s eye view. Why else do you think everyone fights for the window seat?
Tips by Alyssa Ramirez
The exclusion of female consumers in the drone industry leaves room for growth in profits by appealing to an untapped market. As women are encouraged to venture into exploring a new technology, drone usage will become more acceptable and promote empowerment. New functions for drones await to be discovered as more users become adept to flying and utilizing these robots as useful tools.