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Published Date: 11 January 2022 07:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin, Ang Mo Kio GRC


To ask the Minister for Education given that the main contributing factor for gender pay gap in Singapore is occupational segregation (a) what are the top five courses in institutes of higher learning (IHLs) which currently have the highest proportion of girls; and (b) what efforts are there in schools and IHLs to build students' interest in growth sectors including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Poh Li San, Sembawang GRC


To ask the Minister for Education (a) what is the proportion of female students who are enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related disciplines in the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) in 2021; (b) whether there is data on the proportion of women currently working in STEM related industries in Singapore and, if so, what is the figure; and (c) what are the plans to encourage more women to take up education and careers in STEM related industries and to increase their representation in leadership roles.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Tin Pei Ling, MacPherson SMC


To ask the Minister for Education whether targets will be set for the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to increase female enrolment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses so as to boost the supply of female talent to the growing technology and innovation sector.


1. In 2021, among students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines at the Autonomous Universities (AUs), Polytechnics and ITE, close to 4 in 10 were female.

2. Across the IHLs, two of the top five courses with the highest proportion of female students are SUSS's degree programme and Ngee Ann Polytechnic's diploma in Early Childhood Education. The remaining three courses are the ITE NITEC and Higher NITEC qualifications in Beauty & Wellness, and SIT's degree programme in Speech & Language Therapy.

3. According to the Comprehensive Labour Force Survey conducted by the Ministry of Manpower, around one third of employed residents working in STEM jobs in 2020, were female. These included occupations in sectors such as Information and Communications Technology, Engineering and Healthcare.

4. Our approach is to encourage students, regardless of gender, to consider joining STEM courses and industries based on their interest and aptitude. All students take Mathematics and Science subjects in primary and secondary schools, and many to the highest level possible. The Applied Learning Programme (ALP), which more than half of our secondary schools offer in STEM areas, further provides an applied hands-on approach to enable students to appreciate the relevance of their learning beyond the classroom, in community and STEM industry settings. National level competitions – such as the Singapore Science and Engineering Fair, National Robotics Competition, and the Engineering Innovation Challenge – also encourage students to deepen and pursue their interests in STEM.

5. Students are encouraged to explore a variety of education and career pathways while countering gender stereotypes. We do this through our Character and Citizenship Education curriculum, and Career Guidance Counsellors who guide students to explore career sectors based on their interests and strengths. Our students also have access to career resources outside the school setting such as STEM career guidance webinars by the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), some of which feature women in Engineering.

6. At our IHLs, targeted efforts through career fairs and Open Houses help to raise students' awareness of the range of STEM-related job opportunities and industries, and how they can apply their training in related fields after graduation. One example is Nanyang Technological University (NTU)'s Women@NTU initiative, which aims to increase female participation in STEM fields and to leverage the importance of role models in influencing career choices of women in these fields. The initiative includes programmes to support early-career female researchers, mentorship networking platforms, seminars and workshops.

7. MOE also supports the Promotion of Women in Engineering, Research and Science (POWERS) Programme. Launched by President Halimah Yacob in March 2021 and driven by Women@NTU, the programme seeks to create a supportive ecosystem to build the next generation of women leaders in STEM. The POWERS programme also conducts research to address diversity barriers, and provides education and skills training for career advancement in STEM for women.

8. MOE and the IHLs will continue to work with partners across the STEM ecosystem, to encourage more female students to take up courses and careers in STEM.