The Monthly Roundup #4: Reasons To Feel Optimistic Right Now

a cookie cracked open to tell your fortune

On this day in 1953, American aviator Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier. The Hague Conventions began in the Netherlands in 1899. And a brilliant architect who contributed significantly to the Bauhaus movement was born in Berlin in 1883.

Also going on:

In 1953, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb; in 1899, North America experienced the Great Blizzard, which took over 100 lives; and in 1883, the Krakatoa volcano erupted, one of the most deadly in modern history.

You get the point — when there’s good things, there’s all bad things.

So, what’s good in 2020, then?

This month, we talked to a range of experts in the STEM and drone industries, and beyond, and asked them — what are they feeling optimistic about?

Leanne Kemp

Leanne Kemp

Leanne is an Australian tech entreprenuer and Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur, advocating for startups in Queensland.



“Late last year, I was truly excited to start a brand new year and new decade! I spoke early on about the idea that 2020 would be the year for change and the 20s would be the decade for action.

How things changed… COVID19 has been huge. The impact will be felt for many years to come. And yet – the optimism with which I started the decade can not be assuaged. Why? Because change is the only real constant we know. Whether it is the change in the weather, physical changes, the changes we can’t predict and didn’t see coming; change is constant.

And this gives me a great sense of optimism for 2020 because we’ve all started off the year with a huge change together. Maybe the little changes won’t seem as daunting anymore. Maybe that one big change will spur more little changes. Maybe more people will see the world from the perspective of change being constant, and start fearing change less.

Change isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different. So make 2020 the year that you make your own change within, to embrace the nature of change at all.”

Sally French

Sally is a journalist and founder of The Drone Girl, a blog and online community covering all things drones.



headshot photo of Drone Girl blog owner Sally French

“While COVID-19 has brought many challenges and immense grief, I’m optimistic about the opportunities it has created. In many Western countries, drones have struggled to take off because — in many cases — it’s a technology we didn’t need. Why have delivery drones when our roads are perfectly fine? Suddenly — as people are unable to leave their houses and there is a need for a true contactless delivery — people realize drones have value.

Delivery drones have had success in developing countries where roads are poor because there was a real need. But now, coronavirus may have signaled the arrival of a pressing need in all countries.

A few years ago, people were concerned about drones spying on them, or being too loud. Now people are concerned about a safe way to get their medication brought to their house. Drones can be that solution. The data proves it. Google-sister-company Wing said that, since coronavirus, it has doubled its number of deliveries in the US and Australia.

I’m optimistic that — in light of this disaster — people are seeing a real need for drones. Rather than focus on the negative and fixating on the problems that new tech brings, people are focusing on the positives and are optimistic for how new tech can solve broader problems in the world.”

a closeup of drone law and regulations lawyer Tom Pils

Tom Pils

Tom is an Australian lawyer specialising in drone law and the regulations surrounding this awesome and rapidly growing area of human ingenuity.




“Contrary to popular belief, lawyers have feelings; and some of us even have souls. And if anything, the current mid-pandemic world has highlighted importance of feelings, of social interaction, and of being connected.

It is fascinating that this has been enlivened by its forced absence. With a 3 month old son, I am very optimistic about the future and the world
in which I want to raise him. Empathy, integrity, and the ability to carefully think about the consequences of ones actions are elements I hope to instil and to demonstrate.

From a professional perspective, I think that a mid-pandemic and post-COVID-19 world will be even more receptive to new technologies and modern ways of delivering goods and services.

Drones are simply a tool – a means to an end – and where they can complete a given task quicker, cheaper, safer (or all three) then they should be considered as an option.

However, the future of drones is unlikely to be determined by technology but rather by how we accommodate them as a society.”

Wendy Erikson

Wendy is the Digital Manager and Podcast Host at Women and Drones.



Women and Drones Digital Manager Wendy Erikson

“To quote author and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra,
“Obstacles are opportunities in disguise.” Considering 2020 has presented us with an obstacle of pandemic proportions, we at Women and Drones are optimistic that the rest of the year is full of big opportunity.

We see reason to be encouraged, especially when it comes to the Women and Drones global mission to increase the number of women thriving in the drone industry. The United States Federal Aviation
Administration just released statistics showing the number of certified female drone pilots grew to 10,818 at the end of 2019. Compared to
men, women still only represent 6.7% of all drone pilots but that percentage is an increase from the year before. We count that as progress!

Yet another source for optimism is the fact that a woman, Rachel Jacobson, has been recently named the new president of the Drone
Racing League
. With tens of millions of passionate (mostly male) fans around the world, DRL has been called the “sport of the future.”

Jacobson says her own young daughter has become a drone racing enthusiast. With a role model like Jacobson in charge of the DRL, it makes us very optimistic that more female fans will follow.

The final reason for seeing opportunity in the year ahead is that efforts to shine a spotlight on women doing amazing things in the drone industry are becoming bigger and better. The nomination process is underway for the newly named Women To Watch Global Awards.

We are on pace to exceed last year’s numbers, which resulted in the nomination of more than 471 women from eight countries. More nominations, more participation and more recognition equals progress in the ultimate goal of balancing the gender gap in the
drone industry.” 

Ruth Harrison

Ruth creates spaces for women to restart their STEM careers and helps technology focussed businesses become more diverse, through mature age STEM internships. She is Rocket Woman.



STEM education and career consultant Ruth Harrison

“Wow what a ride 2020 has been and continues to be! We have certainly had some downs, but we have found that “necessity (really) is the mother of invention” – Plato

What a learning opportunity 2020 is proving to be. We have pushed huge swathes of our workforce out into the suburbs and have shown that working from home is now WFH, and that it can work! We have survived our “limited” internet capabilities and proved that if people can be productive in a time of great stress imagine what lives we could lead if flexibility was just normal work.

We have done a nationwide trial of web conferencing and learned the upsides and the down sides.

We have realised that being connected, means taking advantage of all the available options and that technology can and cannot replace in person interaction. We have also learned to make our interactions more meaningful both from a work perspective and a personal one.

We have taken a huge leap in understanding mental health and how the way we work affects what we do.

I am hugely optimistic that we will move towards the end of 2020 and into 2021 armed with information and data that will allow us to create a new way of working. One based upon trust, flexibility, personalised practices and a human centred approach.”

This year is certainly one for the history books. Like many, here at She Maps, we are so curious to see what will come next and how we’ll change. There’ll be the big changes covered off by politicians — the economy, healthcare, wealth inequality…

But there’s also the things that are harder to track: how flexible so many of us are becoming, just like Ruth’s team, or the empathy we’re learning that we’ll pass down to our kids, like Tom. How we’re collectively learning to manage our mental health better and to feel ok about having a hard time. 

These are skills that lost their way somewhere in our productivity zeitgeist. But they’re exactly what our kids need when they’re solving the solutions of tomorrow — whether that’s plugging in a healthcare algorithm in a considerate, empathetic way, or knowing how to share and collaborate with others in emotionally sophisticated ways. 

There’s plenty of reasons to feel optimistic at the moment, sometimes they’re harder to find than others, but they’re there.

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