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Emerging Careers for Women in Agricultural Drones: A Surge in New Opportunities and Potential

 

It's no secret that women, particularly in rural areas, have faced significant barriers to career progression and economic empowerment. Obstacles such as limited job opportunities, and traditional gender roles have left women on the fringes of the agricultural workforce. Furthermore, the harsh physical demands of manual labor in traditional farming have discouraged many women from pursuing employment in this sector. 


In light of findings from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the issue of gender income inequality is not only prevalent but significantly more severe in the agricultural sector. With a wage gap averaging 18.4 percent in favor of men in agriculture, compared to 15.1 percent in non-agricultural sectors, it underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions to address this disparity and promote gender equality in the farming industry.

 


Overcoming Traditional Barriers with Agriculture Drones

 

Based on information from Women and Drones, approximately 6.7% of certified remote pilots in the United States, or around 10,818 individuals, are women. This growing demographic is carving out a niche within the agricultural drone community. However, comprehensive global data regarding female involvement in agricultural drone operations remains unavailable to the public. 

 

However, the agriculture industry is undergoing a quiet yet powerful revolution, led by a group of women who are not merely dreamers, but doers utilizing agriculture drones. As drones sweep across the agricultural industry, they're carving a path for women to establish their presence in this historically male-dominated sector.


With the rise in digitization and automation, agriculture is becoming less reliant on brute force and more welcoming to the talents and skills that women bring to the table.

 


A New Horizon for Women's Careers


Today, agriculture drone technology is reshaping the gender landscape in agriculture, enabling women from all walks of life to take flight and find purpose in the fields. For many, this has become more than just a job; it's a new career path with vast potential.

 

Senay Inan: Agriculture Drone Trainer

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Career path: worked as mechatronics engineer 2019 - 2021  - Agras drone pilot in 2021 – Agras drone trainer in 2022


women and agriculture drones

 

Senay Inan, an accomplished instructor in the field of uncrewed aerial vehicles, embarked on her journey in the drone industry with a blend of excitement and fear. She once said, "It took me about a year to become a professional pilot as I have worked with all of DJI's agriculture drones." This path allowed her to transform from a novice operator into a professional pilot, utilizing the devices more effectively and professionally in every sense.


women and agriculture drones


As a woman in a male-dominated field, Senay faced her own set of challenges. She acknowledged, "I knew very well the difficulties of being a woman in this field," referring to physical strength differences and societal assumptions about women's proficiency in technical fields. However, she firmly believes that women can achieve anything if they set their minds to it. She also pointed out that women can excel as instructors due to their innate patience and carefulness, which not only instill a strong sense of safety in students but also ensure better care for the drones.

 

The rewarding aspect of Inan's career lies in the success of her students and the efficiency of drone technology. "Since 2021, I have trained a total of 2000 students for their UAV 01-2 certification," she shared. Her students, initially intimidated by drones, transformed into confident operators after training, viewing themselves as "flying eyes in the air" capable of performing all activities. Inan finds immense satisfaction in witnessing this growth in her students, affirming the sense of achievement that comes with her role.

 

She also recounted a rewarding experience where they tackled a Meadow caterpillar invasion in sunflower fields: "In May 2021, we carried out the operations that would take months with the old-style spraying in 2 weeks with DJI agricultural drones." This incident highlighted the effectiveness and efficiency of drone technology, reinforcing the importance and value of her work.

 

women and agriculture drones

 

Thus, Inan's journey illustrates the potential and opportunities in the drone industry, demonstrating that with dedication, patience, and resilience, success is achievable regardless of one's background or gender.

 

 

Tracey Beer: agriculture drone pilot 

Location: Guymon, OK, USA

Career path: assistant paralegal since 1990s – Agras drone pilot in 2023


women and agriculture drones

Image courtesy of Tracye Beer, content source: Modern Acre & Agri Spray Drones

 


Image courtesy of Tracye Beer, content source: Modern Acre & Agri Spray Drones

 

After spending 32 years as an assistant paralegal, Beer decided to launch a new career as an agricultural drone pilot when she lost her job. Being an experienced flier and having a family-owned farm, she saw the potential of unmanned aerial spraying systems (UASS) in modern farming. For Beer, this was the perfect opportunity to explore something new and help wean her family’s farm off conventional spraying methods. “it was the perfect opportunity to explore something new,” said Beer.

 

Beer's transition into drone piloting not only made farm operations more efficient but also reduced the environmental impact of agriculture. The technology has also given growers like Beer a new level of autonomy and control over their operations, allowing more time to spend with the family and improve family income. She started a drone spraying business with her sister, allowing them to quickly address crop issues without waiting for external help. This shift towards drone technology in agriculture is not just boosting farmers' bottom lines but is also attracting a new generation of tech-savvy individuals to the profession.

 

 

Jennifer Joy Subang: Agriculture drone Entrepreneur & Dealer

Davao City, Philippines

Career path: went back to family farm - Agras drone certification in 2015 – Agriculture Drone Entrepreneur in 2019


Jennifer Joy Subang, as the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of AgriDOM, stands as a pioneering force in the agriculture drone sector, spearheading advancements in agriculture optimization, digitalization, and modernization.


 

Having previously worked in a multinational banana export company, she gained profound insights into the challenges of cultivating cavendish bananas. In 2019, Jennifer, along with her husband, assumed management of a family-owned farm. The weekly fungicide spraying, both physically demanding and costly due to high labor expenses and low efficiency on the farm's rugged terrain, prompted her quest for reliable agriculture drone services. Unfortunately, many providers had exited the market primarily due to difficulties and a lack of knowledge, given the relatively new and unfamiliar nature of the technology. Despite the prohibitive cost of importing drones, which could reach up to 1 million Philippine pesos, she recognized the untapped potential of drone technology, especially in a country where agriculture remains one of the least digitized sectors.

 

Among AgriDOM's notable achievements is their pivotal role in a rice research project. Traditionally, farmers would scatter 80-150 kilos of seeds per hectare. Through drone utilization and extensive experimentation with Rice Research and Jennifer’s team, the study revealed that 40 kilos per hectare offered optimal productivity and cost efficiency. This breakthrough prompted the Philippine Department of Agriculture under Rice Industry Development to adopt the technology as a means of enhancing crop production while reducing costs. The precision and efficiency introduced by drone technology also catalyzed its rapid adoption among banana producers nationwide.

 

Jennifer, a drone entrepreneur, pilot, and instructor, derives fulfillment from leveraging technology to empower her local community and manifest personal values. She utilizes her platform to inspire the younger generation, actively engaging in entrepreneurship seminars and podcasts to encourage innovation and foster a brighter future for agriculture.

 

Each of these women has a unique story to tell, but they are united by a common thread—a career in agriculture drone technology has opened doors previously unseen, untapped, and unimagined. 

 


Drones in the Sky, Futures on the Rise

 

The adoption of agricultural drones transcends mere technology; it's a story of liberation. By reducing the manual labor required in farming and by offering safe alternatives to traditional methods, drones are democratizing the agricultural sector. In doing so, they're providing opportunities for women to enter the workforce, to create new jobs in rural areas, and to participate in a sector that is vital to economies worldwide.

 

And the benefits don't stop there. The precision and targeted applications of agricultural drones not only increase efficiency but also reduce the environmental impact of farming operations. This is a chance to be at the forefront of an industry that is at once innovative and rooted in the wisdom of sustainable practices.


According to a case study in 2023 conducted in Australia, using agricultural drones for weed management can result in a 50% cost reduction and a 51% reduction in chemical usage. Learn more

 


Navigating the Winds of Change

 

Today, we celebrate the pioneers—those who have dared to dream and take flight. But tomorrow, we look forward to a new tradition, where women in rural communities worldwide can own their piece of the sky and play a pivotal role in shaping the future of agriculture. As we continue to champion gender equality in all sectors, it's inspiring to see how technology is becoming an ally in the fight for a more inclusive world.

 

The horizon shimmers with potential, and the only question that remains is, who will rise to meet it? Whether you're an agricultural innovator, a technology enthusiast, a future drone operator, or someone passionate about gender equality, the time is now to join this remarkable movement. Together, we can ensure that agriculture—like the sky above it—is limitless in its opportunities for all.


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