Miss Ivie Sim, 27, is a senior development executive at Australian developer Lendlease, and she had to address hundreds of construction workers at the Paya Lebar Quarter project on workplace safety.
“It was the first time a female project member was addressing the workers, and it was quite intimidating,” said Miss Sim, who has been with Lendlease since she graduated more than 3 1/2 years ago.
But her encouraging colleagues helped make the presentation a success.
Miss Sim is among a growing number of women carving out careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) industries here, thanks to growing support from the industry and academic institutions.
A Mastercard Girls in Tech survey last December revealed that 77 per cent of first jobbers who graduated with a Stem degree took less than six months to land their first job.
According to the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, there were 2,740 female PhD holders among the research scientists and engineers here across the private and public sectors in 2015,a 58 per cent increase since 2010.
But the Mastercard survey also revealed that 68 per cent of the teenage girls here are disinterested in Stem subjects, and 49 per cent believe that girls are less likely to choose Stem subjects because they think such jobs are male-dominated.
Lendlease project engineer June Ng, 26, was not deterred by the idea of being in a male-dominated industry.
“Working in a male-dominated environment can be intimidating initially, but through a strong support system, I have learnt how to turn what appears to be a disadvantage into an advantage,” said Miss Ng.
She is involved in the reviewing of design documents to ensuring that the company’s compliance codes are met satisfactorily.
At Lendlease, Miss Ng joined the company’s Employee Resource Group, and seeks the advice of some of the women there.
Working in tandem is the company’s Women in Construction Network, which aims to “grow the current pool of female site engineers by providing a platform for female engineers to share experiences and best practices”, said a spokesman.
Its efforts may be paying off – 75 women make up 22 per cent of the overall Stem roles at Lendlease Singapore, and 57 per cent of graduates recruited for Stem roles over the last five years were women.
Madam Abigail Wong, 28, a process engineer at local water and energy firm Hyflux, sees her job as essential to enriching the lives of others.
“We get to see our design come to fruition when the plants are being built and operated,” she said.
“There is a sense of achievement when you make it happen, and you believe that what you have done will actually improve the users’ lives.”
Madam Wong said young women should not be dissuaded from Stem careers by their own perceptions.
“If you like to crunch numbers, tinker with spare parts or even write codes, by all means go ahead and make a difference to people’s lives,” she said.
“Always remember that your capabilities are not limited by your gender – it is limited by your own mind, so keep learning and keep asking questions.”
Article first published on StraitsTimes