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During the 1980s, I managed an aerospace engineering division in Singapore.

Kym had been part of the pioneer batch of women recruited by the air force and trained as mechanics amidst much rah-rah publicity. After her contract lapsed, like all ex-personnel, she tried for a job in one of the government-linked companies (GLC) that served as maintenance contractors for the air force. None of the GLCs wanted her – because she was a woman. On top of that, she had a child.

She applied for a vacancy in one of my workshops. The human resource manager (HRM) was aghast when I decided to employ Kym who would be the first female aircraft technician in a civilian company in Singapore.

I was amused that my HRM, a woman, was unsympathetic to a sister and annoyed that she questioned my decision – you guessed it, back then I drove a bulldozer!

Kym got the job and did as well as any male technician. After two years, I promoted her to take charge of a team, raising eyebrows among the redneck mechanics. However, they knew better than to squeak!


When I decided to employ Sue as my private secretary, my HRM’s eyes popped. She uttered words to this effect, “Well, I never thought that…well, you know…”

“…employ someone not good-looking?”

My previous secretary was eye-candy, but Sue had not fully recovered from an accident. Back then, the plastic surgeons could only do so much. She revealed that companies had rejected her because of her looks.

I made clear that I expected nothing less but the best performance. Sue was a fast learner and it was a pleasure to show her the ropes.

I thought I had equipped her with enough skills to survive my departure but was wrong. After I left the MNC, the new boss had his own ideas and Sue had to resign.

To her credit, she set up a hairdressing salon, and within two years had two outlets in Singapore and one across the border in Malaysia.

(Based on true incidents though names of the women are fictitious)

********** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2012 **********