What Stats Reveal About Women Who Work and Drone
Credit: Wix Media
While there are increasingly more women in the workforce, they are still underrepresented in many industries. Representation matters, and it is crucial for fostering peoples’ interest in a career path. It is encouraging to see people like you in positions you want to hold, especially when that presence seems rare. This lack of representation is very noticeable in aviation and STEM-related industries. But just how rare are women in these fields? Exploring data could reveal a surprising picture of just how badly we need more women in these spaces.
Women in the Workforce
Credit: Department of Labor, Women's Bureau
Looking at the 1920s, it's a well-known fact that women's career options were limited. Despite this, the number of women who participated in the labor force grew. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women's labor force participation grew gradually from the 1920s then rapidly from the 1960s to the 1980s before slowing down in the 1990s. Numbers began falling around the beginning of the 21st century until women’s participation in the labor force reached a low of 56.7% in 2015. Despite this, the percentage of women in the workforce aged 25 to 64 with a college diploma quadrupled from 1970 to 2018.
In 2018, 57.1% of all women participated in the labor force, which accounted for 47% of total employment. The top 10 occupations employing the largest number of women were (in order):
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
Secretaries and administrative assistants
Customer service representatives
Waiters and waitresses
First-line supervisors of retail sales workers
In some industries, women made up more than half of all workers. Women were the majority in financial activities (53%), education and health services (74%), leisure and hospitality (52%), and other services (54%). On the other hand, they were significantly underrepresented compared to their proportion of total employment in agriculture (26%), mining (14%), construction (10%), manufacturing (29%), and transportation and utilities (24%). This is also the case when looking at STEM fields.
Women in STEM
Credit: Science & Engineering Indicators 2018
Under the guidance of the National Science Board, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) published Science & Engineering Indicators 2018. Science & Engineering Indicators is a factual and policy-neutral report mandated by Congress. It provides high-quality quantitative data on the science and engineering enterprise in the U.S. and internationally. You can read the full 2018 report here.
The report found that female scientists and engineers are concentrated in different occupations from men. Similar to what is shown in the U. S. Census data, there are relatively high percentages of women in the social sciences (60%) and biological, agricultural, and environmental life sciences (48%) but relatively low shares in engineering (15%) and computer and mathematical sciences (26%).
Even though women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, they only account for 28% of the science and engineering workforce. Women made up the vast bulk of the country's social scientists, but social science occupations accounted for only 3% of STEM jobs.
Credit: Anthony Martinez and Cheridan Christnacht
According to a report posted by the U.S. census, women made up 38% of all U.S. workers and 8% of STEM workers in 1970. Since then, both of those numbers have risen. Women are represented across all STEM occupations more than ever before. By 2019, women made up 48% of all workers and 27% of STEM workers. Furthermore, they accounted for nearly half of those employed in math (47%) and life and physical science (45%) occupations.
Although women are gaining ground in some STEM fields, statistics show that women are still underrepresented in others, particularly in engineering. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of women working in engineering occupations increased from 3% in 1970 to only 15% in 2019.
Additionally, their stats on women who are computer workers is also concerning. The number of female computer workers started at a similar level (around 20%) to that of the social scientists, mathematical workers, life, and physical scientists in 1970. However, this field experienced a decrease after 1990 and continued to do so for decades. Women only accounted for around 25% of computer workers in 2019, while these other fields experienced increases upwards of 20% by that time. This data is troubling because computer and engineering occupations account for 80% of the STEM workforce.
Women in Aviation
Credit: Rebecca K. Lutte, Ph.D.
The aviation industry is not free from this pattern. According to Women in Aviation International, women have steadily increased their participation in the aviation industry over the past two decades. They now hold positions in practically every aviation occupation. Unfortunately, the numbers are insignificant in comparison to how many men are in the field. For example, they share that only 6% of the total number of pilots are women.
In May of 2019, Rebecca K. Lutte, Ph.D. of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, published Women in Aviation: A Workforce Report. Lutte and her team conducted this research in coordination with Women in Aviation International, and the NASA Nebraska Space Grant funded it.
While women are underrepresented in many fields of aviation, the report found that technical operations and leadership positions have the highest gaps. According to the report, women make up less than 10% of pilots, maintenance workers, and airline executives. The report's results are broken down in Table 1 from Lutte's report.
The report emphasizes that continued outreach to underrepresented groups in all areas of aviation is essential for further developing the aviation workforce. Furthermore, pilots, maintenance technicians, aerospace engineers, dispatchers, cybersecurity specialists, airport managers, air traffic controllers, and a continuous focus on the need for women in aviation leadership roles are among the areas of aviation that demand more attention, according to the findings.
While aviation has many outstanding outreach initiatives, these findings can help provide further insight into where they should focus the industry's outreach efforts. Increasing the number of women in the profession will aid in meeting industrial demands. More focus is needed, in particular, on the 3% of female airline executives and 1% of female airline captains.
Women Who Drone
Estimated Total Number of Certified Remote Pilots
Percent of Female FAA Part 107 Certified Drone Pilots
With all of this in mind, it's expected that the gender ratio for drone pilots would also be significantly unbalanced. Remote pilot careers are relatively new, but they don’t seem to benefit from women's growing presence in the STEM workforce. Compared to the other careers explored in this article, the number of remote pilots is much smaller and even more overwhelmingly male.
You can find the data for remote pilots in the U.S Civil Airman Statistics, an annual study that includes data about pilots and non-pilots. The certification process for remote pilots began in August 2016, so that is the earliest data available. According to these statistics, the estimated total number of people carrying remote pilot certificates increased over tenfold in the past five years. Meanwhile, female FAA Part 107 certified drone pilots increased by only 2.8% from 2017 to 2019.
Ultimately, It’s critical to encourage and support women participating in spaces where there aren't many of them. Women have become more present in the workforce over time, and we hope to see a future where women are equally represented in every field. Gender diversity is critical for the success of any industry. Diversity is beneficial not just for representation but also because it can create more significant growth. Different perspectives can lead to more exciting ideas being explored, and new ideas contribute to innovation.
Tyesha Ferron is a writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. Specializing in digital content, Tyesha loves exploring the new ways technology intersects with culture and how drones make things more efficient and accessible for artists, hobbyists, and industry professionals. As a novice drone enthusiast, she continues to be impressed by what the drone community and industry can accomplish.
LinkedIn: Tyesha Ferron