Where’s the local job market booming, offering great opportunities for expat women? Where do they come for their education and stay for their career? And where do women with children find the right working conditions to have it all — fulfilling jobs and a happy home life?
Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we’re revealing the top 3 countries for women working abroad. All the data is from our 2022 Expat Insider survey.
#1 Denmark: Breathing Space & Self-Fulfillment
The land of hygge is the best destination for women working abroad. After business hours, they have ample time to enjoy that quintessentially Danish feeling of coziness.
What do expat women love best about living in Denmark? “The quality of life ― riding my bike everywhere, feeling safe anywhere — and the work-life balance,” says a 28-year-old expat from Brazil. In fact, “work-life balance” is often the answer to this question. And the country does rank first in the Work & Leisure Subcategory.
The excellent work-life balance may help explain why expat parents, in particular, appreciate Denmark. When it comes to balancing their career and kids, they vote it #3 worldwide. (Nordic neighbor Sweden beats it to 1st place, though.)
Favorable working hours aside, expat women enjoy many other things about their jobs in Denmark. They also find personal fulfillment at work. An impressive 88% agree with the statement “I see a purpose in my work” (vs. 77% worldwide).
The most common fields of work — healthcare and education — may partly explain this fulfillment. But Danish business culture probably contributes to the high job satisfaction too. Women give it the best ratings worldwide for creativity, flexibility, and flat hierarchies.
The only drawback about working in Denmark? Despite its strong economy, it’s not an ideal destination for expat women impatient to climb the corporate ladder. It only ranks 17th (out of 36 countries) in the Career Prospects Subcategory.
#2 Ireland: Career Options & Personal Growth
Ireland, however, turns out to be a great place for the ambitious career woman from abroad. “I’ve had opportunities here I would never have had back home. And I’m very grateful for them,” says a US expat about her new home away from home.
The country has some of the world’s best ratings for its local job market. Expat women also praise Ireland for its job security and career options. The vast majority agrees that moving to Ireland has boosted their career opportunities — 73%, as opposed to a global average of just 57%.
And for some, ambition trumps formal education, too. About one in six of the female survey respondents report having a high school diploma as their highest degree, and they appear to be thriving in their careers.
But there’s one major catch ― life abroad in Ireland comes at a price. A hefty one. Expat women rank it in a disappointing 29th place for personal finances.
Although many women work in in-demand industries such as IT (19%) and finance (21%), not all think they’re being paid fairly. And even with a generous paycheck, it can be hard to keep up with expenses, especially in Dublin.
“There’s a gross imbalance of wages versus cost of living,” a second US expat explains. “I’m able to make it work. But I’m not sure how some others manage.”
#3 Poland: Higher Education & Job Opportunities
Poland rounds out the top 3 of the Women Working Abroad ranking. But work wasn’t always the driving force behind their decision to move there in the first place.
More than 20% of expat women originally relocated to go to school or university in Poland. They came for their degrees … and stayed for their jobs. The country has apparently offered them plenty of opportunities after they’ve graduated. The overwhelming majority of women in Poland (73%) is happy with their career options, beating the global worldwide average (56%) by a huge margin.
A slightly larger-than-average share of women teach in academia or adult education, which potentially reflects the country’s popularity among foreign students. But expat women in Poland also pursue careers in various other sectors, such as IT or transportation and logistics.
Their view of the Polish economy could perhaps be a bit more optimistic. Still, the women are happy with their own job security, ranking the country 4th worldwide for this factor.
And that’s not all. More than three in four expat women love their working hours. “I can work from home, work part time, and still get enough money,” says a survey respondent from Mexico.
With an average of about 38 hours, the work week in Poland is even a little shorter than in Denmark. Is there perhaps a Polish equivalent for hygge too?
Beyond the Top 3
If you’re now curious how other destinations do, you’ll find a list of all countries featured in the ranking here. It’ll give you a first idea of where expat women are going (and growing) strong. But it also shows the places where you should maybe have second thoughts when looking for that perfect job abroad.
Do you agree with the ranking? Why (not)?
Image credit: Canva / InterNations