From education to employment

Iceland tops the global charts for championing women in STEM

  • Iceland is declared the best country for championing women in STEM, with the highest average female wage in the world ($79,473)
  • The Netherlands is revealed as the best country for women to kickstart a STEM career, with the highest number of available STEM roles per 1,000 female workers (13)
  • CloudZero expert shares expert advice for women looking to transition to a STEM career

Around the world, women currently only account for 24% of the STEM workforce, while the gender wage gap in STEM professions stands at a staggering $15,000. With many countries working to promote inclusivity, which are currently the best at championing women in the STEM field? 

To find out, cloud cost intelligence platform CloudZero has looked at 38 OECD countries to uncover the percentage of women in STEM roles and education, as well as the opportunities available to them. To get a better understanding of the female workforce in these countries, CloudZero also revealed the gender wage gap and average female salary for women, before using all these metrics to determine the best countries for women to start a career in STEM. 

Iceland is declared the best country for championing women in STEM, with the highest average female wage in the world ($79,473).

Iceland is declared the best country for championing women in STEM, featuring the highest average female salary across all job roles ($79,473) and near equal representation in STEM roles (45%). The Netherlands ranks second with many thanks to having the highest number of STEM roles available per 1,000 female workers (13). 

The U.S. follows in third with one of the highest average female salaries ($77,463). However, this might reflect the U.S. having the world’s highest GDP per capita ($80,030) rather than its efforts to champion women. While the U.S. sees high wages for women, the gender wage gap is still very high (17%), revealing a need for more efforts to achieve equality in the workplace. 

Belgium comes in fourth and also has the lowest gender wage gap (1%). The wage transparency enforced by the country’s strict employment policies ensures equal wages for men and women. Denmark rounds out the top five, also with a low gender wage gap (6%). 

Top Countries Championing Women in STEM
RankCountry Percentage Of People In STEM Roles Being WomenPercentage Of Female STEM Graduates Per Country The Gender Wage Gap Per Country Average Female Wage Per Country Number Of STEM Roles Available Per 1,000 Female Workers
1Iceland45%35%10%$79,4731
2Netherlands29%29%13%$63,22513
3United States34%34%17%$77,4637
4Belgium33%26%1%$64,8485
5Denmark35%34%6%$64,1271

The study also reveals that Lithuania (49%) and Iceland (45%) are the countries with the highest percentage of women in STEM roles. Moreover, the highest percentage of female STEM graduates is seen in Poland (43%) and the UK (38%).

The Netherlands is revealed as the best country for women to kickstart a STEM career, with the highest number of available STEM roles per 1,000 female workers (13).

To determine the best countries for women to start a career in STEM, CloudZero analyzed each country’s gender wage gap, average female salary and number of available STEM roles per 1,000 female workers. 

The Netherlands ranks first, with the highest number of STEM roles per 1,000 female workers (13.40). This is partly due to having the highest number of available engineering roles (121,167). Luxembourg follows in second with the second-highest average female wage ($78,310). 

Belgium comes in third with a high number of available engineering roles (25,119). Switzerland comes fourth with a high average female wage ($72,993), while the U.S. rounds out the top five with an even higher average female wage ($77,463).  

Best Countries For Women To Kickstart A Career In STEM
Rank CountryThe Gender Wage Gap Per Country Average Female Wage In Each Country Number Of Science And Mathematics Job RolesNumber Of Computer Science And Engineering Job RolesNumber Of Engineering Job RolesNumber Of STEM  Roles Available Per 1,000 Female Workers
1Netherlands13%$63,2258521,745121,16713
2Luxembourgn/a$78,3101243011,7447
3Belgium1%$64,8482911,00325,1195
4Switzerland14%$72,9932842,04329,2187
5United States17%$77,46373,151103,318889,0857

The study also finds that the U.S. has the highest number of STEM job roles, with 1,065,554 vacancies. The women in the UK, on the other hand, face many challenges despite there being a high percentage of female STEM graduates (38%). The UK has one of the world’s highest gender wage gaps (14%) and only offers five STEM roles per 1,000 female workers.

The research further revealed that engineering is the STEM job sector with the highest number of job vacancies, providing a total of 2,124,033 opportunities. Engineers are needed to help organizations keep up with the continuous evolution of technology. Cloud computing engineers, for example, help businesses save on cloud computing costs and allocate money to further technological advancements. 

Madeline Umscheid at CloudZero shares some practical tips for women looking to start a career in STEM

“If you don’t have a degree in STEM, you don’t necessarily need to go and get a more formal education to get into the industry. There are usually ways you can get hands-on practical experience without having to spend a lot of money and time, such as paid internships.

“Building a strong peer network is also valuable. Make friends with the people you work with, then stay in touch with them when you switch jobs. If you have a small peer network and want to grow out, challenge yourself to go to a few meet-ups or support groups as these are great opportunities for networking. They’re also a good opportunity to find other people who may be facing similar difficulties to you if you’re feeling alone. 

“When you’re being interviewed for a job, you should also be interviewing the company. Look at their benefits policies, especially how they treat parents. Ask questions like “What’s the gender breakdown of your team?” or “What is your plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion?”. The way they answer these questions will tell you a lot.”

To find out more about the countries championing women in STEM, you can read the full research here.


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