Singaporean women looking for role models have to look elsewhere

WHEN it comes to female role models, some eight in 10 women here look to inspiring figures from overseas, a survey has found.

Less than 20% named Singaporean female role models, according to the online poll of more than 600 people done by advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty Singapore (BBH).

Popular foreign female role models include former first lady of the United States Michelle Obama, actress Gal Gadot and K-pop girl group Blackpink member Lisa.

The Singaporean personalities who were admired include artistes such as Zoe Tay, Fann Wong and Sharon Au. Some of the respondents named a friend, family member or themselves as a role model.

On the low percentage of Singaporean women named as role models, BBH senior strategist Amanda Lim, 29, says: “It is unfortunate that many incredible women in Singapore don’t get the recognition they deserve.”

But for Kelly Leow, 30, communications manager at the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), the results were not a surprise.

“We were very excited to hear about the preliminary findings because it was quite consistent with what we would have expected in terms of local women’s representation in popular culture, ” she says.

Much of advocating for gender equality also has to do with the “softer, cultural impact” and not just policy, she adds.

The survey also found that the top three attributes to best define a contemporary female role model were: “Has good moral values” (24%), “Helps the less fortunate” (14%) and “Breaks stereotypes of women” (12%).

Lim says the finding on breaking stereotypes is particularly intriguing.

“Compared with the West, we are considered more conservative, ” she says. “So it’s quite interesting to see that there is a desire and hunger for women to see themselves break the mould.”

To raise awareness of outstanding Singaporean women, Aware has partnered with BBH for a social media campaign called #ShesAnIcon.

With the campaign running throughout the month of March, Leow hopes that it will “put a spotlight” on local female role models. — The Straits Times/ANN

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