Forum: Not surprising that women stay away from Stem companies

The Straits Times’ Insight editor Grace Ho laments that while girls in Singapore do just as well as boys in science and mathematics in school, they are significantly less likely to work in Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields (S’porean men, are you being outperformed by women?, Nov 23).

Earlier in my career, when I worked as an audit assistant, I conducted year-end financial audits for engineering and construction firms, and visited many of their production floors and warehouses.

Having interacted with the firms’ staff and used their facilities, it does not surprise me that women avoid working in such environments. They are even reluctant to take on temporary assignments such as auditing the books or checking the company’s stocks. The toilets and the non-office environments were dirty, and the staff on the ground lacked courtesy.

It shouldn’t be the case that we need to have a viable female workforce within a Stem discipline first before there is a female-friendly work environment. All workers should follow hygiene standards and basic etiquette in whatever environment they work in.

Women can be smart and often bring a new perspective to problems, and this is especially true of those who met the rigorous requirements to graduate with a Stem degree. It is to the detriment of companies, and ultimately the country, if women do not enter Stem fields.

Oh Thiam Yeng

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