Top 10 countries for career women ·

Top 10 countries for career women

Moving abroad can boost your career but might also lead to financial drawbacks.

  • Mexico, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bahrain, and New Zealand offer the best career prospects for women.
  • 51 percent of women working abroad are happy with their career opportunities, with 13 percent even very happy.
  • Most women who move abroad for work-related reasons found a job on their own (47 percent).

More than half the women working abroad (51 percent) are satisfied with their career opportunities. But at the same time, one-third of them (33 percent) state that their income abroad is lower than what they would make in a similar job back home, compared to only a quarter of men (25 percent) stating the same, as InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, reveals. Based on the insights of close to 7,000 female expats living in 168 countries in its annual survey Expat Insider survey, the social network compiled a so-far unpublished ranking of the best countries for women to pursue a career. While respondents in all top-10 destinations cite above-average satisfaction with their career prospects, they often also benefit from a higher income than at home.

Moving Abroad for Their Career: Women vs. Men
Although almost a quarter of women (24 percent) move abroad for work-related reasons, this is still 16 percentage points less compared to men. Especially among expats sent on foreign assignments, women are still much rarer than men: while only seven percent of female expats were sent abroad by their employer, male expats are more than twice as likely (15 percent) to name the same reason for moving abroad. This is also the case for expats being recruited by a local company (4 percent women vs. 9 percent men) and those who wanted to start their own business abroad (1 percent women vs. 3 percent men). However, when it comes to being more self-motivated, women are close to catching up: eleven percent of female expats state to have found a job abroad on their own as their main reason for moving abroad, which is only two percentage points less than among men (13 percent).

1. Mexico 

  • Higher salary level abroad: 29 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 68 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 45 h

Two-thirds of women working in Mexico (67 percent) state to be overall satisfied with their job. A German expat especially points out the “job and career opportunities in an environment where expats have a good standing”. However, working long hours, it comes as no surprise that 26 percent of female expats working in Mexico are unsatisfied with that factor.

2. Myanmar

  • Higher salary level abroad: 46 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 70 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 45.5 h

Myanmar is at the top of the chart when it comes to female expats having a high enough household income to cover everything they need: in fact, 39 percent even have a lot more than enough at their hands, which is more than four times the global average (9 percent).

3. Cambodia

  • Higher salary level abroad: 33 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 63 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 42.4 h

With 26 percent of female expats stating that having found a job on their own in Cambodia was their main reason for moving, this is the by far most named reason for relocating to the country. “There are so many ways to develop yourself and try yourself in different spheres,” says a female expat from Russia. Moreover, the country has the highest satisfaction rate with working hours (82 percent) and job security (75 percent) out of the top-10 destinations.

4. Bahrain 

  • Higher salary level abroad: 65 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 65 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 40.9 h

Close to every woman working in Bahrain (93 percent) works full time; however, they work the fewest hours out of the top-10 destinations to pursue a career and significantly less than the global average (42.7 h full time). Unsurprisingly, 77 percent of working women in Bahrain are satisfied with their work-life balance. “You can still find time to relax after a day of work,” states an expat from the Philippines.

5. New Zealand 

  • Higher salary level abroad: 53 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 61 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 41.8 h

With just above one-third (34 percent), New Zealand has the highest share of women working only part time. One of the reasons for this might be that a large share of them moved in order to increase their quality of life (28 percent), while only four percent named work-related reasons as their main motivation. However, those who work are highly satisfied with their work-life balance (74 percent), their job security (71 percent), and their job in general (76 percent).

6. Kazakhstan

  • Higher salary level abroad: 62 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 67 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 45 h

More than half of the women living in Kazakhstan (53 percent) moved for work-related reasons: they found a job on their own (26 percent), were sent by their employer (15 percent), or recruited by a local company (12 percent). An expat from Georgia is happy to do “the job that I like and be valued as a good professional”.

7. United Kingdom

  • Higher salary level abroad: 51 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 67 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 41.1 h

While expat women often work in education (20 percent globally), the fields of work are more diverse in the UK: a share of 14 percent each works in education and in healthcare, while another 14 percent are found in advertising, marketing, and PR. A French expat reports that “the UK gave me a chance to prove that I could the job”.

8. USA 

  • Higher salary level abroad: 62 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 64 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 43 h

“The career opportunities are incredible,” says an expat from Canada living in the USA. Close to one in six expat women (16 percent) say they have a yearly gross household income of more than 150,000 US dollars, which is twice the global average (8 percent). On the other hand, they seem to have to work hard for it: the satisfaction with working hours is the lowest (52 percent) out of the top 10 countries to pursue a career abroad.

9. Kenya

  • Higher salary level abroad: 36 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 60 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 46.4 h

A majority of women working in Kenya were sent abroad by their employer (20 percent), compared to only seven percent globally. However, they face long hours and jobs that are not necessarily secure — only 48 percent state to be satisfied with the latter (57 percent globally). It might be the income that makes them stay: same as in the USA, 16 percent have a gross household income of more than 150,000 US dollars per year.

10. Ireland 

  • Higher salary level abroad: 51 percent
  • Satisfaction with career prospects: 63 percent
  • Weekly full-time working hours: 41 h

In Ireland, a majority of women (14 percent) work in healthcare, which is twice the global average of female expats in that field (7 percent). “It is easier to find job opportunities here,” states an expat from Romania. Moreover, they enjoy a high job security (64 percent) and, with less hours per week than the global average, they are also satisfied with their work-life balance (69 percent).

Read More about Women Working Abroad

The Best Countries for Women to Pursue a Career Abroad
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Desperately Seeking: The Typical Expat Women 
In honor of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we are taking a closer look at the average expat woman. Where does she live? Why has she moved there? What’s the state of her career? And is she happy abroad? Based on our Expat Insider survey, we can answer these questions and see if her experience of life abroad differs from that of her male peers.

Women on a Foreign Assignment
Among expats sent on foreign assignments, international women are still “the odd man out”. However, such figures don’t include many expatriate women who find a job abroad on their own. In both cases, international women, as well as their spouse, may face unexpected issues.

What to Do When You’re Overqualified and Underemployed
As an accompanying expat spouse, it can sometimes be difficult to get hired overseas, even when you’re motivated and highly qualified. Our guest author Emily McGee offers tips for thinking creatively about how to move your career forward or finding fulfillment outside of paid employment.

About the InterNations Expat Insider 2017 Survey
For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked about 13,000 expatriates representing 166 nationalities and living in 188 countries or territories to provide information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. Participants were asked to rate 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects and considered both emotional topics as well as more factual aspects with equal weight. The respondents’ ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 16 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up six topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family Life, Personal Finance, and Cost of Living Index. Except for the latter, all indices were further averaged in order to rank 65 expatriate destinations around the world. In 2017 the top 10 were Bahrain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan, Portugal, New Zealand, Malta, Colombia, Singapore, and Spain.

For a country to be featured in the indices and consequently in the overall ranking, a sample size of at least 75 survey participants per country was necessary. The only exception to this is the Family Life Index, where a sample size of more than 40 respondents raising children abroad was required. In 2017, 65 and 45 countries respectively met these requirements. However, in most countries, the sample size exceeded 100 participants.

About InterNations
With about 3 million members in 390 cities around the world, InterNations ( is the largest global network and information site for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking both online and face-to-face. At around 6,000 monthly events and activities, expatriates have the opportunity to meet other global minds. Online services include country and city guides created by a team of professional writers, guest contributions about life abroad, and discussion forums to help members with topics such as the local job or housing search. InterNations membership is by approval only to ensure we remain a community of trust.

The InterNations app is available for Android and iOS and can be downloaded for free on Google Play and the App Store.

Find more information about InterNations on our press pages, company website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or in our Expat Magazine.

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