Top 10 STEM Jobs for Women

Have you ever seen the award-winning 2013 film Gravity featuring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock? Sandra Bullock starred as the character Dr. Ryan Stone, a biomedical engineer on a psychologically thrilling space shuttle mission with astronaut Matt Kowalsky (played by George Clooney). Long story short: both characters end up stranded in outer space after debris hits their work area, leaving them detached from their ship. They struggle to figure out how they can save themselves, although Dr. Stone battles with the temptation to give up during the process. The hardships both characters face in outer space test their inner strength and add a greater depth of humanity to them.  

See Also: 15 Issues Women Still Face in the Workplace

What is empowering about this film in regard to women is that Sandra’s role serves as a highly respectable representation of women in film. Instead of being casted for some typical role in a movie about high fashion or crazy sexual adventures, she was casted as an intelligent and ambitious scientist in a science fiction movie. Dr. Stone positively challenges the way we usually see women depicted in movies by being substantially driven by intellectual pursuits in a male-dominated profession. Had Sandra’s character been real, we can be sure that she would have had to defy a multitude of odds to earn her professional position, besides defying gravity itself.

Some of those odds would include a variety of biases that encourage barriers to form between women and their quest for attaining STEM careers, such as the “prove it bias” or the “maternal bias”. Speaking of STEM careers, these are professions that have to do with science, technology, engineering, and math. They can be applied to many different industries, such as education, healthcare, and finance.

Chances are you might not play a leading scientist in a big movie like Sandra Bullock, but you should still consider becoming a STEM professional in the real world. Below is a well-detailed list of the top ten best STEM jobs for women, and they are some of the highest paying jobs for women. The careers are ordered from the greatest to the least amount of women pursuing them percentagewise. Enjoy reading!

1. Nuclear Technician

nuclear technician

Nuclear technicians engage in nuclear research and nuclear production alongside physicists, engineers, and other STEM professionals. They use special equipment to conduct their duties, which includes monitoring the amount of radioactive contamination in air, water, and soil. They typically work in environments such as nuclear power plants and laboratories. Since they often have to work with hazardous materials, they must take precaution by wearing protective gear like hard hats, plastic suits, and respirators.

As for the educational requirements to become a nuclear technician, one must attain at least in associate’s degree or gain equivalent work experience in the Armed Forces. A lot of community colleges offer degree programs in nuclear science, nuclear technology, and other similar fields.

As for the salary, the median annual wage nuclear technicians earned, during 2012, was $69,060. One can expect to earn between $40,000 and $100,000 annually with this career. Employment opportunities for nuclear technicians are projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022. As for the percentage of women that make up this profession, it is a whopping 100 percent.

2. Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners work as highly skilled primary and specialty care providers. They offer advanced nursing services to patients and their families. They assess the health of patients, develop plans to enhance the health status of their patients, and communicate ways to incorporate health promotion strategies into patients’ lives effectively. They usually care for patients of a specific population, which includes adult and geriatric health, pediatric health, as well as mental health. Nurse practitioners work alongside doctors and other healthcare professionals when necessary. One can find nurse practitioners performing their duties in physician offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, and colleges, etc.

In order to become a nurse practitioner, one must earn at least a master’s degree from an accredited program, which should include clinical experience.

As for the salary, nurse practitioners earned a median annual wage of $89,960 during 2012. One can expect to earn between $60,000 and $200,000 annually with this profession. Employment opportunities for nurse practitioners are projected to increase 34 percent between 2012 and 2022. The percentage of women that make up this profession is 90 percent.

3. Sociologist

social worker

Sociologists conduct research by studying society and social behavior. They examine social phenomenon of groups, cultures, organizations, social institutions, and processes that people engage in. Their role includes specific tasks such as designing research projects to test theories about social issues and working alongside other social scientists. They collect data about social issues through methods like surveys, naturalistic observation, and interviews, etc. Sociologists typically perform their tasks in an office setting and can be found working in postsecondary educational institutions and local governments.

One must earn a master’s degree or Ph.D relating to traditional, applied, clinical, or professional degree programs. Many students who complete Ph.D programs in sociology become college/university professors, while others work as research sociologists for non-profits, businesses, and governments.

When it comes to salary, sociologists earned a median annual wage of $74,960 during 2012. If you decide to pursue this career, you can expect to earn between $40,000 and $150,000 annually. Employment opportunities for sociologists are projected to grow 15 percent between 2012 and 2022. As for the percentage of women that make up this career, it is 80 percent.

4. Miscellaneous Math and Science Occupations

Miscellaneous math and science occupations include varied professions such as mathematical researchers and science teachers. A prominent example that fits in with this category is the mathematician. Mathematicians use advanced mathematics to create and understand complex mathematical principles as well as to engage in data analyzation. They apply their advanced mathematical skills to real-world problems in order to solve them. Some examples of mathematicians are applied and theoretical mathematicians. A couple areas of math that they touch on are algebra and geometry. They are known to work with chemists, materials scientists, and chemical engineers within industries like the federal government, educational services, and manufacturing.

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Educational requirements typically include having an advanced degree: either a master’s degree or doctorate degree. Yet some job positions may require one to have at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.

The 2012 median annual wage for mathematicians was $101,360. Want to take on this career? You can expect to earn between $50,000 and $200,000 yearly. Employment of mathematicians is projected to increase 23 percent between 2012 and 2022. Women make up 67% of miscellaneous math and science occupations.

5. Nurse Anesthetist


Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures to minimize pain. Also, they offer their expertise in pain management and certain emergency platforms. They assess patients before giving anesthesia to learn of medications being taken as well as allergies or illnesses patients may be suffering from, etc. That allows them to tailor the administration of anesthesia to the specific needs of patients in a safe manner. They stay with patients throughout their procedures to ensure they receive the right dosage(s) of anesthetic. Nurse anesthetists work in physician offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, and offices of other healthcare practitioners.

Like nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists must earn a master’s degree from an accredited program. The program should involve classroom education and clinical experience.

As for the salary, nurse anesthetists earned a median wage of $148,160 during 2012. One can expect to receive annual earnings between $60,000 and $200,000 with this career. Employment opportunities for nurse anesthetists are projected to grow 25 percent between 2012 and 2022. The percentage of women that make up this profession is 63 percent.

6. Natural Sciences Manager

natural science manager

Natural sciences managers supervise the work activities of scientists, such as chemists, physicists, and biologists. They coordinate and direct tasks relating to scientific research and development, including testing, quality control, and production. In addition to hiring and supervising work staff, natural sciences managers ensure laboratories are stocked with supplies, construct administrative policies, and set budgets for projects and programs by determining work-related needs. They tend to work in offices as well as laboratories alongside top executives, researchers, and developers.

Their educational requirements typically include having a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D in a scientific discipline. In order to acquire the skills needed to supervise scientists, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Public Administration (MPA) should suffice.

Now for the salary: the median annual wage of natural sciences managers was $115,730 in 2012. If you choose to take up this profession, you can expect to earn between $60,000 and $200,000 annually. Employment opportunities for natural sciences managers are projected to increase only 6 percent between 2012 and 2022. As for the percentage of women that make up this career, it is 56 percent.   

7. Pharmacist

Pharmacists provide prescription medications to patients and offer expert advice on how to use medications safely. As part of their job of filling prescriptions, they verify instructions on medication usage from physicians and determine whether medications will negatively interact with other drugs or medical conditions patients may have. They also extend knowledge to patients about how to lead a healthy lifestyle. That includes general health topics like diet, exercise, stress management, and other related issues. Pharmacists operate health and wellness screenings, which includes the provision of flu shots and vaccinations to the public. They engage in administrative tasks, such as record keeping. You can find pharmacists in pharmacies, drug stores, hospitals, grocery stores, and department stores. They maintain work relationships with insurance companies, pharmacy technicians, interns, and other healthcare-related entities.

In order to become a pharmacist, one must obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) degree from an accredited pharmacy program. Also, one must be licensed, which includes passing licensure and law examinations.

The median annual wage for pharmacists during 2012 was $116,670. One can expect to earn between $80,000 and $200,000 as the annual wage with this career. Employment opportunities for pharmacists are projected to grow 14 percent between 2012 and 2022. Women make up 52 percent of this profession.   

8. Economist


Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services within a region. They do that by gathering and analyzing data, researching trends, and evaluating economic issues. Also, they prepare reports, tables, and charts to present their research findings. They provide advice to businesses, governments, and individuals about economic topics. They also write and publish articles for academic journals and other sources of media. Economists’ work environments include governments, consultation services, as well as science-based services, etc.

Most economist jobs require a master’s degree or Ph.D. On the other hand, there are some entry-level jobs available to those with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Some entry-level positions include research assistants, financial analysts, and market research analysts.

As for the salary, economists earned a median annual wage of $91,860 in 2012. By pursuing this career, you can expect to make between $50,000 and $200,000 annually. Opportunities of employment for economists are projected to grow 14 percent between 2012 and 2022. As for the percentage of women that make up this career, it is 44 percent.

9. Computer and Information Systems Manager


Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities of an organization. They are also known as information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers. They evaluate the information technology needs of an organization and implement essential computer systems to meet their IT goals. Such duties include supervising the upgrading of computer hardware and software along with ensuring that an organization’s network and electronic documents are secure. Computer and information systems managers work alongside computer system analysts, software developers, and computer support specialists. They work in industries such as computer system services as well as finance and insurance.

Their educational requirements involve earning a bachelor’s degree in a computer- or information science-related program, such as management information system (MIS). Many organizations prefer for them to have a graduate degree as well.

When it comes to annual income, computer and information systems managers had a median annual wage of $120,950 during 2012. One can expect to earn between $70,000 and $200,000 yearly by taking up this profession. Employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to increase 15 percent between 2012 and 2022. Women make up 27 percent of this profession.

10. Astronomer and Physicist

Astronomers and physicists research the way multiple forms of matter and energy react. Work positions consist of planetary and stellar astronomers along with medical and plasma physicists, etc. Their tasks include constructing scientific theories and models about characteristics of the natural environment, like the composition of an atom or the force of gravity. After creating theories and models, they engage in scientific experimentation to test the accuracy and practicality of them. They design new scientific equipment, like lasers and telescopes. Also, they prepare and publish scientific papers for scholarly journals. You can find astronomers and physicists in colleges, federal government facilities, and in hospitals.

They require a Ph.D for most jobs relating to their fields. Yet there are fulfilling opportunities for work available to those with a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, such as within applied research.

The 2012 median annual wage for astronomers and physicists was $106,360. If you prepare for this career, you can expect to earn between $50,000 and $200,000 yearly. Opportunities to employ astronomers and physicists are projected to increase 10 percent between 2012 and 2022. The percentage of women that make up this career is 25 percent.   

See Also: The Stereotypes of the STEM Career

Feel free to share this list with women in your life. Are you a woman interested in a STEM job? Have you picked a favorite from the list that you want to look into more later on? Please let us know in the comments section below.