Data from the Ministry of Defence shows that there were twice as many female recruits for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 2014 compared to previous years. From an average of 70 women who signed on as regulars from 2010 to 2013, the total number of women who donned the military uniform in 2014 rose to 140.
Women currently make up about 7.5% of the SAF’s pool with regulars, where they serve as intelligence analysts, artillery gunners and pilots. The SAF is, however, looking to expand its pool of qualified female enlistees.
Starting Recruitment Drives Targeted at Women
The increased use of technology has created more opportunities for women to serve their country. ME2 Rajeswary Pandian Suppiah is one of the 1,500 uniformed women in the force, a brigadier-general in charge of air force operations at Changi Air Base. Her job involves monitoring the city-state’s airspace while operating on a 24-hour shift. Huang says the army and air force have started recruitment drives to hire women and who can perform in areas such as cyber defence and warfare surveillance.
Achieving a Work-Life Balance
With broader military roles for women, SAF Volunteer Corps believes it could present a bigger volunteer opportunity for aspiring female recruits. ME3 Cham Gek Ping, the Navy’s first female Master Chief of a squadron, believes that even in the military, it is possible for military personnel to balance their personal and professional lives. After all, military members are also entitled to the same flexible work schedules during and after pregnancy like in other workplaces.
Overcoming the Notion of Sole “Security Trooper” Status
Advancements in technology and the use of unmanned systems have given more women have the chance to step forward and serve in the military. Moreover, a military career in the SAF does not necessarily entail performing front-line roles. In fact, not all of them involve physically demanding vocations, and the SAF has made efforts to raise the awareness on the different career options available.
The expansion of roles in the SAF is encouraging more women to join the military. As female recruits get a taste of the military life and rise to key positions within the army’s ranks, the SAF hopes it will convince more women that it can be a rewarding career move.