SINGAPORE - You would never expect to find Miss Teoh Yan Lian - petite, fair and pretty - roaming the boiler and plant rooms of Changi Airport.

In a male-dominated industry, the manager of mechanical systems at Terminal 3, however, is one of two women in a department of 11.

Miss Teoh, 29, leads a team of six engineers and technical officers who take care of the different mechanical and electrical systems at the airport.

They conduct inspections on air conditioners, lifts and escalators.

Her work also involves managing contractors who help maintain airport systems and conducting on-site investigations in the plant rooms.

She said that the maintenance rooms are usually dirty, noisy and hot, which could be a turn off for some.

The National University of Singapore engineering graduate said: "We have to get down and dirty sometimes, especially when things like the chiller or air conditioners break down. These days, even guys who study engineering don't want to do such jobs."

Miss Teoh, who is attached, was promoted to team leader last year. She has been in the mechanical industry for five years.

As her job requires her to climb into small spaces and up ladders, she usually wears boots and pants to work. She admits that most contractors are surprised when they meet her for the first time.

She said: "Sometimes, they feel awkward talking to me because I'm a girl and they're not used to it.

"But when you show them that you're fair, reasonable and responsible, it isn't an issue any more."

She has met her share of contractors who talk down to women, but said that they are exceptions rather than the rule.

"Sometimes it takes longer for me to earn their respect, but it's because most (contractors) are more senior to me," she said.

The airport runs 24/7 so she occasionally has to return to work late at night

She said: "I used to feel scared especially when I returned late at night, but I've realised that I have nothing to worry about. The airport is very secure."