Imagining two possible futures

In his speech, Mr Ong Ye Kung said he is not sure if the pay gap between the genders is ever going to close in Singapore, unless there is a shift in social norms.

He added that gender discrimination in the workplace is also a problem. "There is no fixed formula for leadership, and certainly no fixed gender for any industry. There must be equal opportunity for all men and women, based on their abilities.

"To suppress this based on stereotypes is narrow-minded and damaging, not only to the economy, but (also) to society at large."

His speech also touched on his personal experience. "My daughters are 17 and 15, they are growing up, curious about the world, and exploring future possibilities," the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) said. "One possible future is a world where they are stereotyped as anxious or overwrought when they are merely being responsible," he said.

But another possible future could be "a world with equal opportunities, equal recognition, and equal choices", he said.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

There is no fixed formula for leadership, and certainly no fixed gender for any industry. There must be equal opportunity for all men and women, based on their abilities.

MR ONG YE KUNG

It is important his daughters learn to recognise in media stories, articles, songs and videos subtle forms of sexism and discrimination. He said: "They come dressed up as science, family values, social norms, or part of the diversity of views... my daughters must see them for what they are - condescension, bias and discrimination."

Toh Wen Li

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2017, with the headline 'Imagining two possible futures'. Print Edition | Subscribe