SINGAPORE - There are graduate women in Singapore who are willing to date and eventually marry blue-collar workers.
But they are few, said seven dating agencies.
Mr Matthew Chan, managing director of Love Express Services, said 80 per cent of his graduate female clients want to be matched with someone just as educated, if not more so.
Of his 5,000 clients, 60 per cent are women.
And 80 per cent of these women are degree holders.
"Women generally want to marry 'up'," he said.
"And education is linked to career prospects, salary and the company one keeps.
"While graduate women might be friendly to non-graduate men during events, they would still prefer to date someone of the same social strata.
The subject of graduate women dating blue-collar workers became a hot topic after The New Paper on Sunday (TNPS) featured a rich graduate woman who plans to marry her chicken-rice seller boyfriend.
The report followed a speech by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who had called on Singaporeans to rediscover the pride in blue-collar jobs and regard them as core to the workforce.
Speaking at a ministerial forum organised by the National University of Singapore's Students Political Association on April 4, he said: "We need to be a society where customers treat blue-collar workers with respect and that requires some attitudinal changes."
Since the TNPS report, there has been a lot of debate online over whether women in Singapore are too fussy.
In the report, a straw poll of 50 undergraduate and graduate women was the talking point.
All 50 women said they would not date a blue-collar worker.
Some people are not surprised by the result.
Of the seven dating agencies The New Paper contacted, none said they had a graduate woman client willing to be matched with a blue-collar worker.
Mr Chan of Love Express Services said women who might be open to dating "beneath" them tend to be over the age of 38.
"But it has not come to my knowledge of any successful cases leading to marriages in my three years in the business," he added.
Ms Maggie Lim, director of My Perfect Link, felt a few female graduates may be open to dating a diploma holder.
But none would want to date a blue-collar worker.
"Women who approach an agency already pay a premium to engage the agency's services," she said. "Of course, they have high expectations."
Ms Lydia Gan, co-founder of Clique Wise, was sceptical that such matches would last because of the difference in their background.
She said she has had women clients who married less-educated men while they were in their 20s only to become unhappy a decade later.
By then, the women would be doing well in their careers, but the men would still be holding low-paying jobs.
Said Ms Gan: "These women would ask themselves why their peers can afford caviar, but they cannot. "I'm not saying it's impossible for such relationships to work, but the tendency to compare is always there."
Miss Indranee Rajah, Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC, told TNP that she hopes women will choose their potential partners based on how well they can "click" and not just on paper qualifications.
She acknowledged that being of the same educational background can help some couples to gel.
But there can be other sorts of commonalities, like religion, ethnicity or cultural background.
"We are all human and influenced by society," she said.
"But I hope people can see others in their entirety, and not be fixated on labels.
"If couples find it difficult to understand each other because of their differing jobs or educational backgrounds, then fair enough.
"But women should not write somebody off just because he doesn't have a piece of paper."
Going by the online reaction to the poll results, most Singaporean men were unhappy with the women's responses.
One, Mr Ivan Tan, in his 20s, wrote on Facebook: "The more girls feel this way, the more I am determined to rise up above them and make them stare in awe before me, yet not being able to own and achieve (sic) me."
Business development officer Royston Ang wrote: "I believe those girls being interviewed will not mind being with an uneducated guy who (has) millions.
"With money anyone can be educated easily."
But there were also men who accepted the pragmatism of graduate women as being realistic.
A married man, Mr Zack Kong, 28, posted on Facebook: "Sad but true... Status, money, education are the new currencies in this modern world."
This article was first published in The New Paper.