In an ideal world, a list of “best careers for women” will not exist. It will just be a list of “best careers.”
But just like the Oscars, Golden Globes, the Emmys and any other prestigious ceremonies still hand out awards like best actor, supporting actor, actress and supporting actress, there is still a list of best careers for women.
This is not to say that women are special or need help in certain areas for a job to be a good career for them.
Instead, what happened when the 2021 Brit Awards tried a gender-neutral format was that the best artist category was made up of only male nominees.
“There are people who don’t want to be defined by gender, and I want to help make awards more inclusive for them,” said Rhea Seehorn, who plays the lawyer Kim Wexler in “Better Call Saul,” to The New York Times.
“At the same time,” she added, until women and nonbinary performers are afforded “as much screen time as the men, it’s not very fair to compare the performances.”
In the acting world, actors who have the most onscreen time often win more top awards. In 2021, male characters were double the number of female ones in the top 100 grossing films, according to a recent study.
Then, there’s the issue of what we perceive as great acting. Men get to take on more complex roles that let them be tough and emotionally sensitive — think Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Award-winning performances for actresses, on the other hand, are more one-dimensional. They mostly involve crying and some hysterics.
Do we face these same problems as we seek to figure out what makes for the best careers for women?
Why we still have a list of “best careers for women”
A report by McKinsey and LeanIn.org may shed some answers.
Using information from 333 participating organisations employing more than 12 million people and by surveyed more than 40,000 employees, the report found that women are demanding more from work.
So much so that they’re willing to leave a company — at rates that are unprecedented — to get what they want.
And the non-negotiables for women workers today extend far beyond equal pay.
According to data from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, in 1979, women’s earnings were just 62% of men’s.
However, this gender wage gap has consistently narrowed throughout the ’80s and ’90s, with the female-to-male earnings ratio now averaging around 80% to 83%.
This isn’t the only gap women want to close. The Women in the Workplace 2022 report found that:
- While at the entry-level, women make up 48% of the workforce, only 27% of the C-suites are
- Only one in 20 C-suite leaders is a woman of colour
- Only 87 women are promoted to the first rung of management out of 100 men
- only one in four C-suite leaders is a woman, and only one in 20 is a woman of colour
Women leaders are leaving their jobs at the highest rates ever for these key reasons:
- Microaggressions “undermine their authority and signal that it will be harder for them to advance.” They’re told their gender or being a parent, for example, are why they’re not getting a raise or a promotion
- Being overworked and underrecognised. Women leaders do more for employee well-being and foster Diversity, Inclusion and Equity work — yet 40% say their DEI work isn’t recognised in performance reviews. Doing this extra work also make 43% of women leaders burnt out compared to 31% of their male peers.
- Denied flexibility. Women leaders want more flexibility and more focus on well-being and DEI. They’re 1.5 times likelier than their male peers to switch to a company more committed to DEI over the last two years.
There are other reasons why we still have a separate list of “best careers for women.”
Men do not have to go up against stereotypes of what makes “a good leader.” Copy the aggression of male CEOs and women are punished. Be more nurturing and they’re seen as weak.
What’s more, with men outnumbering women by up to 3:1 in top companies, political institutions and universities, this means men have a larger network to learn about opportunities and find mentors.
Then there are sexual harassment, hostile work environments and other biases that mostly hold women back.
Based on this, the best careers for women can be summarised as those that share these three traits:
- they focus on employee well-being and DEI
- they have more women leaders to champion their advancement
- they offer more flexibility
8 best careers for women in 2023
1. Doctors and surgeons
Average annual salary: US$1,65,347
Doctors, including surgeons, command some of the highest salaries in the job market due to the specialised knowledge and skills required for their roles.
This financial security grants women economic independence and empowers them to invest in their long-term financial goals, provide for their families, and enjoy a high standard of living.
As healthcare advances, doctors and surgeons can choose to specialise in various areas, ranging from paediatrics to cardiology to neurosurgery, tailoring their careers to their interests and passions.
While becoming a doctor or surgeon requires dedication and commitment, once established in the field, many professionals can manage their schedules and work in various healthcare settings, allowing them to achieve a work-life balance that suits their needs.
Average annual salary: US$$121796 per year
Pharmacists play a crucial role in the healthcare industry and can earn lucrative salaries, particularly in hospitals or pharmaceutical companies.
Women in this field don’t have to worry about long hours as most pharmacists work in grocery or drug stores. The hours can be regular and flexible, unlike other medical professions.
This is one of the best careers for women who want to work in one of the STEM fields, raise a family and enjoy their careers.
With their crucial role in ensuring the safe and effective use of medications, pharmacists earn high salaries. And as healthcare continues to evolve, the demand for pharmacists continues to increase.
Pharmacists can specialise in various areas, such as clinical pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, or research and development, which allows them to tailor their career paths to their interests and strengths too.
Average annual salary: US$117,938 annually
Depending on your field, you can have typical working hours or a more demanding schedule, so pick what fits your lifestyle best.
Because of the education requirements and work schedule, salaries are high, and women earn over US$117,938 a year as lawyers.
The legal field also offers considerable growth opportunities for women. As the legal landscape evolves to encompass new areas such as technology, environmental law, and intellectual property, lawyers can pivot and specialise in these emerging fields, thus expanding their career prospects.
4. Marketing manager
Average annual salary: US$89,997
While women are slowly making up the majority of marketing positions, their average salary remains lower than males in this role. Male marketing managers earn an average of US$103,107.
Still, marketing manager stands out as one of the best careers for women as there are substantial growth prospects for women. As businesses continue to recognise the critical role of marketing in achieving their objectives, the need for skilled marketing managers continues to grow.
Diversity in the industry is reportedly increasing overall as well. In the US, the overall ethnic skew of the marketing/advertising industry in 2022 is 32.3% diverse, up from 30.8% a year ago.
5. Physician Assistant
Average annual salary: US$119,460
Physician assistants work under the supervision of physicians and perform many of the same duties as a doctor or surgeon.
Research has found that women enter the field because it enables them to gain medical knowledge and the ability to practice medicine without the high cost and pressures of medical school.
It is one of the best careers for women because it offers a trifecta of high earning potential, substantial career growth prospects and exceptional flexibility.
You can work in hospitals, clinics, outpatient care centres or even choose to work in rural or underserved areas, making it easier for women to tailor their careers to their personal preferences and lifestyles.
Many also can work part-time or adopt flexible hours, accommodating their family and personal commitments.
6. Nurse Practitioner
Average annual salary: US$121,616
With an impressive 87.17% of women in the field, nursing has been a popular choice for women due to its narrower gender pay gap.
Nurse practitioners, who assess, diagnose, and treat patients, are one of the best careers for women aiming for high-paying healthcare careers.
This field is appealing to women, including mothers, as it offers flexible hours, good salaries, and the potential for substantial income growth as the demand for healthcare professionals rises.
As you hone a unique blend of skills, including critical thinking, empathy, assertiveness, and attention to detail, you can use them to specialise in areas like family practice, paediatrics, acute care, or psychiaty.
Following that, you can pursue leadership roles, such as nurse managers or directors of nursing, all of which come with increased responsibility and higher pay.
Average annual salary: US$123,212
For animal lovers, one of the best careers you can choose is becoming a veterinarian. While the journey involves attending veterinary school, taking an oath, and gaining clinical experience, it is less demanding than the human medical field.
Women make up a significant portion of this field, with about 75% of veterinarians being female.
The profession has transitioned from being predominantly male-dominated to increasingly attracting women due to several factors, including a shared passion for animals, a lack of gender discrimination in school admissions, and the opportunity to study animal science and medicine.
Veterinary medicine is among the highest-paying jobs for women, especially for specialists in various areas of veterinary medicine, reflecting the growing demand for skilled veterinarians and the increasing emphasis on pet care and animal well-being.
The profession also offers ample room for professional growth, with opportunities to specialise in areas such as emergency medicine, dentistry, or pathology, often leading to higher pay and leadership roles within the veterinary field.
As the field evolves, veterinarians can tailor their careers to align with their interests, whether it’s working with small companion animals, large farm animals, or exotic species, ensuring a successful career.
Average annual salary: US$104,220
Psychology is one of the best careers for women, offering high pay, substantial growth potential, and flexibility.
With the increasing recognition of the importance of mental health, the demand for skilled psychologists is rising, making it a promising career path for women seeking financial security and professional fulfilment.
Psychology stands out as a field predominantly led by women, with over 80% of psychologists being female. While it requires a significant investment in education, including a bachelor’s degree, work experience, a master’s degree, and a doctorate in psychology, the rewards are compelling.
Psychologists can expect to earn an average annual salary of around US$80,000 and have the option to specialise in various areas such as clinical, counselling, or industrial-organisational psychology.
You can choose to work in hospitals, clinics, private practice, online counselling and more.