11 October 2006

On Graduate Women & Lowly-Educated Men

I had asked for guest writers. Here's my first! The article is an excerpt from Christopher Ng's upcoming 2nd book, Harvesting the Fruits of Prosperity. More details below about book & author.

Only the fittest shall find marital bliss

“You might as well show up with your salary printed boldly on your T-shirt. Save the women at SDU the trouble of asking", remarked a cynical male colleague when another fellow worker was talking about attending the next speed dating session organized by the Social Development Unit (SDU). In this country, even love and romance in are tainted by financial considerations.

Nothing seems sacred anymore.

June, 32, is a now an extremely unhappy single in Singapore. A local university graduate, she joined the SDS in the hopes of finding an eligible man, someone humble and unassuming, not your typical credit-card toting yuppie man out on Boat Quay on Friday night. The Social Development Services, which only matchmakes non-graduates, did a spot check on her. They found that she has a degree and promptly cancelled her membership. June now joins thousands of graduates who infiltrate the SDS every year, only to be caught and kicked out of the organization after their graduate status is discovered.

In a study on marriage trends in Singapore found in the Statistics Singapore website, 32.8% of female graduates aged 30-34 were single in the year 2000. This statistic has decreased over the previous 10 years (from 1990) thanks to the efforts of organizations like the SDU. In contrast, 41% of males aged 30-34 with below secondary education are single. This is a whopping 3.8% increase since 1990.

Can we blame these men for being unwanted and feeling disenfranchised? Their only hope now is to marry foreign brides. That hope in turn is being dashed by a policy which prevents foreign work permit holders from marrying local citizens.

The trends reflect the changing nature of Singapore society over the past 10 years. Graduate women have organizations built for the express purpose of finding their life partners creating a slow but steady improvement in marriage trends. Men with poor qualifications, however, will have to live their lives either being hopelessly single or taking a calculated risk with mail-order brides. Thus we see meritocracy being pushed to its extreme logical conclusion - it evolves into social Darwinism, a term coined by Herbert Spencer, who espoused the theory that only the most capable humans are chosen to dominate. Living in Singapore has become a game of the survival of the fittest. According to social Darwinists, the strongest or fittest should survive and flourish in society, while the weak and unfit should be allowed to die.

If you visit http://www.lovebyte.org.sg, you’ll see that its mission statement says:

“We believe in our mission of promoting marriage among graduate singles and inculcating positive attitudes towards marriage among all singles in Singapore to achieve strong and stable families in Singapore.”

It seems to give the impression that the organization wants graduates to get married but other singles to simply appreciate marriage as a wonderful abstract concept.

In our push to do what works and reward those deemed capable, we constantly run into the problem of crude and primitive benchmarks. Our drive to create families with intelligent and capable children, we engineer a master plan to get highly educated people to marry each other creating some sort of a social stratification within our society. (“Does any one here belong to the Graduate caste?”, one might ask.)

Of course social Darwinism with myopic policy-making fails to consider other more personal factors which may be quite significant. Perhaps some graduate women are less willing to play a nurturing role within the family and Asian men have already sensed that and subconsciously marry down. Perhaps children with graduate moms may also have to see less of parents who are high-flying professionals.

Thus the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In our drive to have graduates marry each other, we deny many children the opportunity to have at least one graduate parent to guide them along in their life journey. For now, we have to learn to be aware of the threat of social Darwinism and be mindful to defend ourselves against that.

And for June’s sake, could we please merge the SDU and the SDS?

Christopher Ng Wai Chung ( B.Eng Electrical Engineering, MSc Applied Finance) is the author of Growing your Tree of Prosperity, a book on personal wealth management for the Singapore employee which reached no. 9 in the local bestsellers chart in October 2005.

His 2nd book, Harvesting the Fruits of Prosperity will be published in December. It details his personal journey to financial independence one year after the publication of his first book. Christopher does not dabble in multi-level marketing, is no sales-superstar, does not qualify to be a member of the elite in Singapore, and today still works as an IT project manager in a American multinational.

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Anonymous said...

Instead of relying on the government to merge the SDS and SDU, perhaps the private sector and civil society should just self-organise a social matching service that is not bound by the dogma of the government.

Anonymous said...

There are many other private dating agencies in Singapore - offhand I can think of sites like lunchactually, or match.com.

It's really up to the individual to look around, although I do agree SDU and SDS do have an advantage due to their membership size.

Anonymous said...

Err, I've a friend who is organising a n event soon, to do with the topic at hand. Can I post it here?

Anonymous said...

suddenly I am reminded of the Student's Sketchpad "love by the bridge" episode.

Anonymous said...


The Straits Times had a similar article on this last week.

Anonymous said...

If memory serves me right, I recall that one of the purpose of the SDU (like 20 years ago)when it was first set up was to matchmake graduates, in particular graduate women which statistic had shown (even then) to be marrying late or not marrying at all.

The (infamous) belief from LKY and co. was that graduate mothers would produce smarter babies, which in turn is good for the economy and yada yada yada. (This is also reflected in many other policies such as better tax incentives for graduate mothers, education choices etc). As such, match making services from the government has always been organised based on education background.

Although the above thinking is somewhat elitist and preferential treatment of graduate mothers/women is institutionalised into many government policies, there is some objective truth in it, as any social study student would tell you.

I believe that surveys after surveys have also shown that graduate women typically prefer to marry graduate men. Many reasons, such as the belief that graduate men are better providers (meaning $$$) and that women should not marry "down". So there is also a practical side to this arrangement. Men on the other hand, have a higher tendency to choose women that will not "overshadow" them.

So the logic goes: why waste resources in match making services if (statistically speaking) graduate women would not want non-graduate men.

So don't expect any reversal of policies anytime soon.

I do not believe that private match making agencies would be any different. They tend to match-make based on indicators. And guess what? One of the biggest indicators is education level. No agency is going to match make a 25 yo woman with a PhD, with another 25 yo A-level male grad. It is just NOT ON, unless there is some really big and fantastic reason why the agency want to match make the two.

In short, what is happening to SDU and SDS is a reflection of government somewhat elitist policies and beliefs, as well as a reflection of our own society and how we choose our mate.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with Lau Min-tsek's observations about the social practicalities of match-making by paper-qualifications, I find SDS's ejection of June from its membership too much a case of "rule-by-the-book".

June just want a "down-to-earth" husband regardless of his papers, and personally I would agree with June's priority. What is more impt for the long-term success of a marriage, matching paper-qualifications or being able to get-along/adapt to each other?

Even amongst my friends, I tend not to share abt my post-grad papers and Mensa IQ because in my view, these factors are not the critical success factors behind friendships and marriage. Yes, it is unfortunate that our society have quiet some pre-conceived myths/prejudices... a few friends were surprised to break their prejudices abt "those high-paper and high-IQ type" after getting to know me better. Therefore, why restrict the grads only to the grads, when mixing people of different backgrounds will help build a more cohesive society?

Back to genetic theory: only 1 parent with a dominant gene is needed to pass it on. Based on a premise that the "brainy" genes are the dominant genes (i.e. good for survival of the species) then, it wouldn't matter if the gene is from the mom or the dad. One does not need 2 smarty-pants parents to be a smarty-pants. Anyway, even the premise can be challenged, for genetics is a game of probability... esp with mutation played in.

Did anyone ever ask the women what they want? I am one of the 32.8% statistics in 2000 and still single :P For me, I hesitate to develop a relationship in Singapore, knowing very well the pressure cooker life our future children will have to grow-up in. Not sure about the rest... what are/were their issues/concerns?

Anonymous said...

I confirm that there was indeed such a case like June's , and the sad fact was, she wasn't even a graduate yet, but someone who was studying a degree at the time. What's even worse is that because she was kicked out, her friend decided to avoid SDS as well!

As for whether merging of SDS and SDU would make much of an impact? Yes, I believe it would. It would allow a greater diversity of people, from all walks of life, to meet and mingle.

Now that, imo, would be the true Darwinist situation, for both sides of the coin.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, this guest entry is really uninteresting. It doesn't say anything that we don't already know.

Anonymous said...

can't you people find a mate without a the government stepping in? don't need to talk about social darwinism, I think just darwinism and the fact you can't get a mate by yourself is indicators you shouldn't be married... obviously unattractive genes...

i think the converse is that two social misfits that mate ends up with a new generation of social misfits.. so you end up with idiot savants perhaps?


no, I'm not serious...

Anonymous said...

My eldest sister went to church. Guess why? (Nope. Not that she cared a hoot about the Father, the Son, nor the Holy Ghost.)

My second sister followed suit. (Here's where the duck and the chicken speak not the same language.)

One hooked herself a Fairprice manager, and is now burning joss-sticks. The other stays on the shelf.


Anonymous said...

I am a graduate woman. To be honest, if I were still single, I don't think I would be attracted to a man who was not a graduate.

I have dated or known men who were not graduates before, or when I was younger, didn't seem to intend to become graduates. We may have enjoyed the same things, but there were gaping differences in the way we reacted to things, felt things and expressed things. I am not sure about how they felt, but I never felt we shared a deeper connection to warrant us entering into a relationship at all.

Besides the difference in our perspectives on life, love, etc etc, I don't feel comfortable conversing my inner-most feelings and aspirations to people who are not conversant in English. I always feel like I haven't expressed my ideals completely. Consequently, it makes me feel like the other party does not completely understand me. While this is in general and there will always be exceptions, most men who are lowly-educated are usually not very adept in the English language. So far, I have not met one that proves the contrary.

I am very willing to marry someone who is not as highly-educated as me if we fell in love, and shared the same ideals, aspirations and perspectives, who understands me and whom I understand. So far, I haven't met one who is exactly like the above and I am not one of those graduate women who are forever socialising within the same social circle.

I guess a lot of Singaporean men out there are very willing to think that Singaporean women are superficial and materialistic money-grubbers. I guess it's easy to jump to such a conclusion based on the statistics and the urban myths. *shrugs*

Anonymous said...

Here is a Christian perspective. Scroll all the way down and read the last few paragraphs starting from the one titled 'doctrines of devils about marriage'.

I'm quite sure even non-Christians can see the similar trends that are described.


Anonymous said...

Well, this oh-so-scary meritocracy hasn't convinced Singapore male graduates and female non-graduates to avoid matching up, right?

Anonymous said...

Men marry down and women marry up. It is the natural order of things since the dawn of time. You leave men and women alone in their couplings, and statistically, most pairings will follow the rule.

But somehow, in the twisted feminists' minds, this natural order of things is abominable and regressive. In their delusions of gender equality ideals, a woman must not pair up with a man who is a higher achiever; that's oh so unthinkable, regressive and shameful! No, she must be equally capable or even MORE capable than he is.

Ladies, you want to get all the highest education... Masters, PhD or whatever, go ahead. You want to be a superwoman who excels in the office wearing a power suit, go ahead. No one is stopping you. But know that all these actions impede your search for marital bliss. The odds are stacked against you. The not-so-good hand is dealt to you like it or not. You can take a gamble, or cut your losses and move on. It's as simple as that.

Then you get eugenics-loving loonies such as Lee Kuan Yew insisting and encouraging graduates only pair up with graduates to improve the gene pool. Non graduates are of inferior gene stock, so they are discouraged from procreation or defiling the smart gene pool by mating with graduates.

If anyone of you out there actually participates in SDU or SDS activities, you're just as EVIL and CRAZY as the Old Man himself. You may deny and justify, but your actions are eloquent proof that you support his twisted scheme of eugenics. I despise social engineers who try to play God.

lbandit said...

Dear Annonymous October 13, 2006 2:07:41 AM,

Have a heart. Not everyone who participates in SDU or SDS activities are EVIL and CRAZY with a sinister desire to contort evolution theory like the Old Man himself did.

Some do it in honest belief of increasing one's social interaction to increase the chances of finding a partner.

And there are those who find it a good place to try and sell their mlm product or offer financial services. Or so i've heard.

siauderman said...

Blame the frigging army. If not for the fact that men have to spend 2 yrs of their prime in it they wouldn't have so much trouble marrying their peers.

And let's face it, it's possible for a man with only A-levels at 25 to be just as smart as a woman with a PhD at that age. It's all because the army impeded the guy's progress.

We should just delay NS till after men finish their bachelor's degrees, if Singapore really does need NS at all.