Bay Area drone maker on mission to close gender gap for certified pilots

25 women employees at Skydio spent the day flying drones, with goals of completing their training to show women can be successful in this male dominated industry.

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Bay Area drone maker focused on closing industry's gender gap
A big gender gap persists in a number of fields, notably technology - But a Redwood City drone maker is proving to be an example of the changing workplace, one of the pillars of Building A Better Bay Area.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- A big gender gap persists in a number of fields, notably technology. A Redwood City drone maker took its women employees to the San Mateo County coast on Tuesday to let them try to fly one. It's an example of the changing workplace, one of the pillars of Building A Better Bay Area.

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Skydio hopes to inspire more women to become licensed drone pilots.

They work in human resources, marketing, accounting and other departments. Their mission Tuesday, was to get out of their comfort zone and fly a drone.

"We want to provide a safe and judgment-free zone where they're allowed to experiment, where they're allowed to learn how to use this technology, and feel empowered about it," said Mira Marquez a product manager at Skydio.

All 25 women work at Skydio, a fast-growing Bay Area drone maker.

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The company brought them out to the beach behind Sam's Chowder House to try their hand at a technology that is overwhelmingly male dominated.

The organization Women & Drones says out of more than 160,000 remote pilots, less than 11,000 licenses have been issued to women. That's shy of seven percent.

This "Take Flight Day" is the beginning of a process to add 25 more women. They will follow up with virtual training classes to qualify for an FAA certified drone license.

"We've paired up the women across the company, so we have some of our more experienced pilots matched up with some of our newer employees or women, who haven't had as much time in the air," said Devon DiPietro, the company's marketing director.

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It's also a get-acquainted opportunity because many have never met due to working from home during the pandemic.

The group event gave them the courage to try something they might not do alone.

"Once they get it launched and up in the air, it's just a free-for-all, super stoked, like smiles on their face," said Nicole Bonk, the head of flight testing.

If these women can do it, their excitement and success may inspire their friends, families and other women to pilot commercial or recreational drones. There was no way they were going to fail.

"I think failure is a part of growth," noted Mira Marquez. "It's not about how many times you fail. It's about how much do you continue to stand up, and you continue to push forward. And that's a huge reason why we're doing this as a group."