- In the San Diego Unified School District, girls who are high school sophomores and juniors can sign up for a program to help them earn a remote pilot certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, wrote District Administration.
- Just 5% of these certifications are earned by women, according to the story, which is why 10 students were selected to be part of the 150-hour Girls Take Flight internship program and learn about drone operations, navigation, weather and other skills like photography and videography.
- The biggest challenge for the program has been to find female drone pilots who can teach the skills, which the group is looking to address going forward.
Educators are always looking for ways to encourage and support female students' interest in STEM, potentially helping to direct them toward careers in these fields. One way is to provide them with role models so they can see someone who looks like them in these positions, helping visualize a path they may be able to follow, as well. That’s certainly the sentiment Sally Ride shared, the first U.S. woman who traveled in space, in a 2009 interview.
The first step is getting young women into STEM classes. And while more girls are starting to sign up for STEM-related subjects like engineering, they’re still not signing up for these courses as often as boys, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Women make up just 35.5% of bachelor’s degrees awarded in STEM fields in the U.S., and just 33.7% of PhDs, according to data from nonprofit Catalyst. Clearly, parity between men and women in STEM is not there — even among drone pilots.
Schools may want to consider partnering with organizations in the community to create mentorships, sponsor school events and host expos. This can help to increase access for girls to professionals working in STEM fields and see what their future could one day look like.