When a woman outshines her man

What should successful women do in an Asian society in which outshining your husband is still frowned upon?

For Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, it helped that she and her husband married in their 20s and progressed in their respective careers together.

"We basically grew together," she said last night at the annual International Women's Day celebration dinner by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Career Women's Group.

Even so, when Ms Fu, who is married to technopreneur Ivan Lee, decided to enter politics, "that was the hardest negotiation" with him.

With a laugh, she said: "I try as much as possible to 'give him face' in an Asian setting. If I'm at a wedding dinner as 'Mrs Lee', then I try not to be noticed."

She was replying to emcee Irene Ang's question, during a dialogue with about 200 career women to mark International Women's Day today.

Marketing director Amy Tan, 36, also felt this was an issue. "A lot of women I know wouldn't mind marrying down, but a lot of men I know say 'no, thank you'."

Some women might even decide to start a family without a man, she added.

But Ms Fu replied that single motherhood was a decision the Government would refrain from supporting.

This article was first published on Mar 8, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.