APR Female Scientists Paving the Way for Future Generations
To celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, we spoke to Novita and Rita Metalia, two female scientists, experts in their respective scientific fields and roles in Asia Pacific Rayon (APR).
STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) is always a male-dominated field. Women represent only 28 per cent of the workforce in the STEM field, while men outnumber women in the STEM major in college. In addition to that, UNESCO’s Science Report recorded only 33 per cent of researchers are women.
In APR, we believe that women and girls empowerment is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goal 5 that makes the world a better place. In honour of International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2021, we hear from Novita and Rita about their thoughts on pursuing STEM careers for women in manufacturing.
Novita: Process Engineer
Novita is a Senior Process Engineer in APR’s Viscose Department, helping ensure APR’s responsible production (link to our policy page on clean manufacturing).
“I have always been a big fan of women scientists: Marie Curie, Elizabeth Blackwell, Katherine Johnson, even Jane Goodall. In my eyes, they are hidden figures with revolutionary works,” Novita said. But she always felt that these female scientists received less recognition than their male counterparts. “Actually, that’s what motivated me to become a scientist,” the 27-year-old said.
She decided to study Chemical Engineering, and set her mind to helping break down stereotypes. Novita started work as a Scientist in APRIL, one of APR’s sister companies, before transferring to APR to help prepare for its launch in 2017.
“At that time, I was responsible for coordinating the job training program in collaboration between APRIL Learning Institute and the Sateri production team in Jiujiang, China. I had to reside in China during the training. It was the first time for me living abroad,” she recalled. Sateri is another company under the RGE Group, in China.
Novita’s target is to handle the end-to-end viscose management by the middle of this year.
“I believe that being ambitious and determined are the keys to excel in a male-dominated field, such as STEM. Especially in APR, where career progression is possible as long as you are ready to step out of your comfort zone,” she said.
Novita continually tries to push herself, and is currently responsible for supporting an increase production efficiency and streamline process at the APR mill.
“It is not a simple task at all. Yet I choose to see every challenge as an opportunity to go above and beyond,” Novita said.
Rita Metalia: DCS Operator
As a new viscose production faculty, our manufacturing control systems are highly automated. Rita’s day-to-day tasks are to remotely monitor and supervise the production in the chemical department.
Her journey in APR started in 2017, upon graduating from Sriwijaya University, Palembang, South Sumatra, with a degree in Chemical Engineering.
“I loved math and science as a kid, and it has always been one of my dreams to be an engineer,” Rita said. That’s why, when she got the opportunity to join APR as an engineering trainee, she took it without a second thought.
The first step was to attend training at the APRIL Learning Institute to learn the entire process of viscose production at APR.
“I learned everything from viscose, spinning, spin bath and all chemical aspects in viscose production,” the 25-year-old explained.
After a month of training, Rita was posted in the Chemical department to assist with APR’s start-up.
“It was not until the end of 2018 that I finally became a DCS operator and I fell in love with the environment, the people and the type of work we do there,” she recounted.
For her, the long journey to be where she is now was all worth it. She is one of five female DCS operators in the APR chemical department who work side by side with male colleagues.
“When it comes to the leadership tasks, I work just as hard to prove that I am just as capable of leading. There is always an equal opportunity for men and women to lead in APR, and all I have to do is work harder,” Rita said. “For me, professionalism is not about gender. It’s about showing that my work is as good as my colleagues,” she concluded.
In APR, we support women in STEM by providing the space they deserve to pursue their careers.
Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!