She Flies: The Drone Education Program Keeping Girls in STEM
On their homepage, She Flies states that Australia is lacking in terms of its retention rate for female talent in STEM fields. According to their website, only 27% of Australian STEM jobs are filled by women. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many women around the world. Catalysyt.org reports that as of 2018 women are more likely to leave STEM careers than enter them. She Flies has made it their mission to address the lack of women in STEM through their drone training programs. They want to use drone education as the platform that launches girls into careers in STEM and keeps them there.
The organization was co-founded by Dr. Karen Joyce and Dr. Catherine Ball, both of whom have experience using drones for practical applications. Dr. Joyce has years of teaching and coaching experience, and a desire to make learning fun and interactive. Dr. Ball is passionate about intersecting technology with finding solutions for humanitarian and environmental issues.
To accomplish their goals, She Flies works with schools and communities around the country. Dr. Joyce leads in creating the program content, which is reviewed by other qualified teachers. With She Flies linked to the Australian curriculum, schools that participate in the She Flies program can teach girls valuable technical skills and give them first-hand technical experience. In their workshops, students can learn to program drones, the roles and responsibilities of flying in 'real life' situations and test their flying skills.
Speaking of teachers, She Flies also designs training programs for educators. They provide teachers with professional experience workshops and ready-made lesson plans and resources in line with the Australian curriculum to alleviate some of the hard work that comes with introducing new technology into the classroom.
It doesn’t stop there. She Flies makes what they do available to communities and businesses, furthering the proliferation of digital literacy. They have training designed for government organizations, town planners, pastoralists, and more. Programs are tailored to suit whichever group they are engaging, from library programs to corporate events. Moreover, each program is filled with diverse activities made to keep learning fun. Even though She Flies is dedicated to building girls’ confidence in technology, the organization does not limit its program to only teach girls. The program is gender neutral and boys can participate as well.
As of now, She Flies operates only within Australia, but organizations like this could have an impact on gender equality worldwide.
If you want to learn more about the presence of women in Australian STEM careers, check out these resources:
I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture.