When we decided to put together the Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference, one of our main goals was to bring together a diverse set of perspectives, expertise, and knowledge. As we continue to firm up details about our program and announce new speakers, we hope you’ll notice the incredibly broad spectrum of topics to be covered at DARC, as well as the expansive range of backgrounds represented by our speakers, from fighter pilots and engineers to entrepreneurs, drone journalists, and law and policy experts.
Unfortunately, what you may also notice is that women and minorities are greatly underrepresented in our current lineup. With about 60% of our program complete, only about a third of our speakers are women, and even fewer are minorities. Even our Call for Proposals, which received a tremendous response, in both quality and quantity of proposals, yielded fewer than 10 proposals from women, compared to over 50 proposals from men.
As a conference with the express goal of bringing as many points of view to the table as possible, by not improving our current minority and female ratios, we will fall well short of that aspiration. We’re reaching out now, to you, our community, because we know we can do better. Now that we’ve posted a peek at the conference schedule, we’re asking for your help to identify additional speakers that would make great additions to our program, in particular women and minorities. Potential candidates don’t need to have specific experience with drones. In fact, much of DARC is built around the need to map existing technologies, laws, and policies onto the coming drone economy, so expertise in even tangentially related areas may be relevant. If you think you, or someone you know, can contribute substantially to improving our program, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be clear, recommendations that we receive in response to this “call for diversity” will not receive automatic invitations to speak. We will continue to vet any potential speaker candidates the same way we have from the start, for knowledge, expertise, and speaking ability. But with your help, we hope to bring you a conference that is truly representative of the potential impact that civilian drones will have on all of us.