Female role models in Singapore

Sceptics who think that men do all the hard work and heavy lifting in society – think again. Women are increasingly being able to compete with and exceed expectations of what men usually do because of their mad skills and know-how – and we do it with class, glamour, and style.

There’s no such thing as “a man’s world” any more – here are 10 Singaporean women winning at life in traditionally male-dominated jobs.

1. Vicky Wang – A born leader who excels on land and water

strong women singapore vicky wang

Image credit: The Singapore Army

Want to meet a super woman who led an entire battalion of over a hundred young men and women, inspired a team towards victory, and was in charge of grooming the future generation to become top-notch soldiers? Say hello to Vicky Wang, previously the Head of Personnel Development Branch for G1-Army and now a Commander of the Cyber Defence Group with the Singapore Armed Forces.

Vicky signed on at the tender age of 19 and has been making waves ever since. She’s also a proud mama to two adorable boys, slaying the game in both work and family life.

army dragon boat regatta

Image credit: Bright Sparks

In her previous role as Commanding Officer, Vicky has proven her leadership prowess is not only on land but across the water as well. Her leadership skills and ability to inspire have led her battalion to emerge as champions during the annual Army Dragon Boat Regatta race for several years.

Talk about an underdog story, as her team was able to soar past the Commandos team, a hot favourite for first place. Take that!

2. Claire Jedrek – Pro-racing extraordinaire

claire jedrek strong women singapore

Image credit: Ozy.com

From Grid Girl to Racing Driver, 36-year-old Claire Jedrek is one of the most recognisable faces in the race car realm and blazed the trail for Singapore’s extreme sports scene She’s so formidable that the industry recognises her as ‘driver first, woman second’. The moment her helmet is on, all bets are off as she competes with – and beats – her male peers on equal ground.

Currently, Claire also works as an E Sports presenter and is a co-founder of The Film Dispensary.

female car racer singapore claire jedrek

Image credit: @clairejedrek

As if everything she is working on doesn’t keep her busy enough, she also has time to dabble in break-dancing, mountain biking and marathon running.

3. Nurshahidah Roslie – Singapore’s first female professional boxing champion

strong women singapore nursniper

Image credit: Zula 

Besides making us wish we had a cool nickname as well, Nurshahidah “The Sniper” Roslie is the epitome of kicking ass and taking names. Some achievements under her belt include a 9-2 win-loss record, plus the glory of representing our nation at the SEA Games from 2009 to 2015.

nurshahidah roslie singapore boxer

Image credit: @nursniper

A former scholar with three years of teaching background as a lecturer in ITE’s School of Business, the World Boxing Council crowned her Asia’s Female Champion of the Year for 2017. Can you imagine strutting into the classroom and having to tell Singapore’s first pro-boxing champion that you’ve forgotten yesterday’s homework? *sweats nervously*

4. Candy Foo – Owner of a one-stop motorbike company

strong women singapore candy foo

Image credit: @itsfoo

Having dropped out of Banking and Finance School a mere six months before graduation, Candy Foo drew plenty of judgements and scoffs from her coursemates. Well, her motorcycle business – CandyMotor – was successfully kickstarted with the help of her partner and has taken off to massive success, so who’s laughing now?

candy motor store

Image credit: @itsfoo

It ain’t just about making the big bucks, either. CandyMotor started off as nothing but a $200 venture and a pipe-dream to provide motorcyclists in Singapore with accessories that are both high-quality and affordable. Helming a one-stop shop for maintenance and repair work plus retailing flashy accessories and everything else in between, Candy opened a market haven for riders by the age of 21.

5. Nursheila Zuraidah – Master Sergeant in the Military Police

As a leader in the Military Police, Master Sergeant Nursheila Zuraidah maintains discipline and regimentation within the force and keeps our soldiers in check. Growing up, Nursheila knew she was not meant for the traditional desk bound job. Hungry for new experiences and exploring the outdoors, she decided on taking the unconventional route of being a leader in the SAF Military Police.

nursheila zuraidah

Image credit: The Singapore Army

She calls it her “dream career” and pushes other women to follow in her footsteps, whatever trepidations they may face. “There are a lot of girls in Our Army these days, and we all managed to pull through. So you can too!”. As part of her training, she completed a gruelling nine-day Jungle Confidence Course which involved hunting and foraging for food, and constructing an individual shelter while trying to navigate to a designated safe zone in the dense rainforest.

6. Siti Naqiah Tusliman – Singapore’s first female commercial diver

siti naqiah tusliman strong women singapore

Image credit: ePR News

Meet Siti Naqiah Tusliman – Singapore’s first female diver to be certified to use specialised diving gear for work purposes in local waters. Her work requires her to conduct underwater surveys for vessels,  scrubbing and polishing the underside of hulls. Not an easy task, the job entails daily dives with 16KG helmets on her shoulders for hours on end.

naval diving strong women singapore

Image credit: TerraMar Project

Her job is physically and mentally demanding – no wonder that this line of work is traditionally male-dominated. However, Naqiah remains high-spirited and continues to hustle and keep vessels belonging to global shipping companies in tiptop shape.

A quick peek into Naqiah’s LinkedIn profile also shows us that she’s now also a Technical Report Writer and ROV Pilot Trainee.

7. Tan Huixian – A marine engineer living her childhood dream

strong women singapore tan huixian

Image credit: The MSC Office

  • Working 10 hours a day in a 40°C room – check
  • Operating heavy machinery such as oil purifiers and freshwater generators – check
  • Living away from home for 6 consecutive months and working 7 days a week – checkerino

All these sound daunting, even for most guys, but welcome to the life of Tan Huixian. Huixian’s job as one of Singapore’s few female marine engineers has brought her not just out to sea, but across continents to different countries such as China, New Zealand and South Africa.

It’s not a glamorous job, that’s for sure. She slogs away in the grimy engine room, cleaning machinery and inspecting them every single day. But as someone who loves hands-on work and travelling, this job seems almost tailor-made for her.

8. Kelly Tan – PSA’s only female crane operator

Image credit: Kelly Tan

Here’s someone who might just be able to slay at all arcade claw machines. Operating monster machines has been Kelly Tan’s true calling for over 11 years. Back in 2018, she was not just PSA’s only female crane operator but also a mother of 2 kids.

Her love for cranes and heights has brought her to loading containers using fifteen-storey-high yard cranes and being at the frontline of the quay – that’s almost as high as the bungee jump at Sentosa!

Being a crane operator was Kelly’s 11th job, and there are perks to this stint that none of her previous 10 can offer. In her crane cabin, she gets a panoramic view of Singapore’s waters as she spends a third of her day transporting containers from vessel to truck, and vice versa. Sweet!

9. Cherilyn Tan – Tech entrepreneur and CEO of AsiaLawNetwork.com

strong women singapore cherilyn tan

Image credit: Jimmy Yap

When she was stuck looking for a lawyer to help her restructure a previous business she was involved in, Cherilyn Tan struck gold with the idea for Asia Law Network, a database that helps users find lawyers with the right background and experience, ensuring nobody’s time is wasted.

In a field known for men like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, tech entrepreneurship was – and still is male-dominated. Entering this field was an uphill challenge, but Cherilyn tapped on her unique blend of experiences in business, marketing, and design thinking to spearhead the development of a functional and user-friendly database.

Since its founding, the company has proven itself to be a reliable partner for lawyers and people seeking legal help, and has even made its way to Stanford University’s Legal Tech List, a curated list of 749 companies in the world changing how law is done. #GirlPower to the max!

10. ME2 Shorini Dhurgha – NS Medical Corps trainer

strong women singapore singapore armed forces medic

Image credit: Singapore Armed Forces

Deployed to Nepal back in 2015 to help with the aftermath of an earthquake, Military Expert (ME) 2 Shorini Dhurgha’s skills in emergency medical training were put to the ultimate test. It was on her and the team to conquer the challenging circumstances and give vital medical aid to the earthquake victims.

On that life-saving mission, one particular incident that has stuck with her was how an injured Nepali child helplessly wept onto Shorini. “All I could do was put my arms around his shoulder and comfort him”. Having to deal with such gut-wrenching scenarios on the job shows a degree of emotional toughness that’s hard to find. Through it all, Shorini had to stay strong for herself, her team, and the people counting on her.

singapore nepal mission saf

Image credit: Singapore Armed Forces

After graduating with a Diploma in Nursing, Shorini yearned to join an organisation involved with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. Being a medical practitioner in the SAF also meant increased exposure and personal development.

Shorini has trained NSmen, Regulars, and NSFs in medical protocols and procedures. With steel-like resolve and a heart bursting with compassion, she has managed to conquer a traditionally male-dominated job.

Our abilities aren’t determined by gender

Traditionally, as caregivers and nurturers, women have been the ones we turn to for a “soft touch” approach to fixing problems. But it’s the 21st century and women are getting – and utilising – opportunities to stand toe-to-toe with men, not just in stereotypically “feminine” jobs like nursing and teaching, but in every single field we’ve found opportunities in.

“[My kids] know what I’m doing is purposeful, that mommy is defending the country… I make a direct impact on soldiers’ lives, to make them strong – in body, heart and mind.” – LTC Vicky Wang

singapore armed forces recruitment

Image credit: MINDEF

This is the case in Our Army, where women are increasingly taking up leadership roles and making real and tangible differences to our soldiers. With the commitment to serve, these fearless femmes are empowered in a career where they perform diverse roles and enjoy numerous advancement opportunities, work alongside like-minded leaders and play their part in defending the nation.

“Our Army really makes you realise your true abilities, and everyone is seen as a soldier first. Not by gender. This is a career that commands respect. It trains you to be independent, to communicate to influence, and moulds you to be unbreakable. You will never get bored!” – ME1 Shorini Dhurgha

“My career lets me do things few other women experience, for example, field camps and soldiering. The training challenges my physical and mental strength, and I feel proud of myself every time I conquer my limits.” – 2SG Nursheila Zuraidah Bte Zulkarnain

The three Army Regulars featured prove that regardless of gender, there are diverse roles for anyone who has the passion to rise up, take charge and be a leader who aspires to make a difference.

army recruitment drive women

Image credit: Mindef

Find out more about career prospects in the Army for women here!

This post is brought to you by The Singapore Army.
Originally published on 27th November 2018. Last updated by Kezia Tan on 8th March 2022.

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