She was educated at the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus and Catholic Junior College, before going on to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and statistics at the National University of Singapore. She then went on to the University of Virginia in the United States, where she earned a Master of Arts and a PhD in sociology. She has been teaching at NUS since 1991.
- 9 new NMPs sworn in, The Straits Times, 20 July 2009
- President appoints NMPs, The Straits Times, 16 July 2009
- Paulin Tay Straughan, Calvin Cheng confirm NMP appointment, channelnewsasia.com, 7 July 2009
- Nominees for NMP positions, The Straits Times
- Assoc Prof Paulin Tay Straughan at parliament.gov.sg, retrieved on 22 August 2009