Recognising success – Women in Africa’s Drone Industry fly high

Kim James to moderate 5th virtual exchange on how Africa's aviation industry is fstering gender quality

The aviation industry is making strides as more women take up positions in the still male crowded drone space.

The significant progress over recent years will be showcased and celebrated in the upcoming 5th virtual exchange themed “New Horizons: How the Drone Industry is Changing and Fostering Gender Equality in Aviation.

Comprising aviation professionals giving their insights, the online exchange will be hosted by Women and Drones Africa, partnering with GIZ and AIfE.

Having led by example offering training and job opportunities to youth and women, UAV Aerial Works Director Kim James, who will also moderate the virtual exchange said being part of this session and celebrating the progress women have made in the aviation sector and seeing change year on year was a testament to the efforts and not just talk of women and youth development.

ALSO READ: Drone Professional 4 reaches Amazon #1

 James said she believes in hiring on will and training on skill.

“Being passionate about youth development and supporting women and girls in meaningful ways has always meant a lot to me. Seeing the potential in someone we can develop, nurture, and support and then witnessing the growth and development in those individuals, is the best thing.”

This has translated into thriving female drone pilots who are racking up experience and contributing to the fight against crime on high-value sites. Other notable results from this continuous youth and women development have seen women become the backbone to the company’s operations departments.

Aerial Works Senior Drone Pilot and drone security team leader at a national key point, Kholeka Ndlangamandla will also share her lived experiences at the helm which has also shown an immense commitment to fostering and ensuring gender equality.

Managing Director Bertus van Zyl said the entity’s philosophy is to create equal opportunities rather than equal outcomes.”

“Aviation is unforgiving of carelessness and neglect. For this reason, minimum standards must be upheld to ensure safety. Our philosophy is to create equal opportunities rather than equal outcomes. We strive for diverse teams upholding high standards. We welcome and support anyone who can operate in such an environment.”

This philosophy runs deep in Aerial Works and is exhibited through the staff complement. This has bolstered the endeavour to diversify teams by upholding high standards while affording equal opportunities.

Women changing narrative in Agriculture and Technology spaces

General manager at Aerobotics, Ken Treloar who is one of the panelists, said agriculture and Technology has traditionally been very male-dominant, but this narrative is changing.

“5 years ago, our first female hire joined, and today we have just under a third of the team made up of some amazing ladies.”

He said a good balance of both structured and informal experiential learning, as well as staff training and career support can go a long way.

“Companies in the drone industry specifically need to think about taking proactive steps to ensure more women are equipped with the right set of skills to be leaders in their field.” 

For example, they can establish mentorship and sponsorship programs aimed at supporting women at various stages of their careers, providing guidance, opportunities for skill development, and access to networks. Also, fostering a culture of inclusivity and diversity within the organisation is crucial.

Treloar said the UAV industry has a pivotal role to play in fostering more gender equality in the tech space.

This much-needed focus on gender-balanced recruitment and offering mentorship and leadership development initiatives to help empower women in their roles would work as a boon to build more awareness around the UAV-based industries and encourage and build enthusiasm for women thinking about entering the space.

“We need to keep in mind that women-based roles go far beyond the drone.”

He said women are actively adding tremendous amounts of value to companies in the space. In all departments imaginable from coding to product development, drone, data, sales, and customer operations, marketing functions, finance, research and development, executives, investors, mentors, and the list goes on.

Author of Drone Professional, an Amazon best-selling book series, Louise Jupp who is also a panelist said the exchange would be the perfect stage to highlight the incredible ascent of women.

She said there have been major strides within the drone industry—a field that is not just soaring to new heights technologically but also becoming a vanguard for gender equality in aviation.  

“Our own online Fireside Chat series, hosted by Kim James and Louise Jupp, has become a monthly diary date, connecting women across Africa with the drone industry’s trailblazers since 2021.”

Fireside Chat is a friendly, informative and informal space where experiences are shared, challenges are discussed, and women’s perspectives shape the future of aviation.

“By joining forces with GIZ and AIfE, we’re excited to be amplifying our reach and enriching our mission to showcase the drone sector’s potential as a frontier for employment and the greater participation of women in tech.”

The synergy of this partnership for the event aims to cast a revealing light on the drone industry’s capacity for job creation and present first-hand narratives from women trailblazers in the field. Jupp said the collective goal was not just to spark conversation but to ignite action and inspire transformation within the sector, offering actionable recommendations for participants to take

5 comments

  1. KJ

    I love this. Nice one Liam.

    And this is a shout out to all the wonderful ladies in our business and the industry.

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