Risye Damayanti started to know business since she was 15 years old. She used to do some small trading to add her pocket money since high school in Surabaya. Now, this young mother of three is a retailer of Shell Petrol Station in 3 locations in South Jakarta. This cordial woman is responsible for 80 employees working in shift in three petrol stations that open for 24 hours a day.
Everyday Risye leaves home at 9 am with her motorbike to one of the Petrol Stations and she will make another visit if necessary. “It is easier and faster with motorbike,” said Risye.
In public opinion, running and managing a petrol station is a man’s world. But, Risye rejects this notion. Becoming a petrol station retailer is a new interesting business with no gender boundary. Currently, from 50 Petrol Stations operating in Greater Jakarta Area and East Java, Shell Indonesia has 5 women as petrol station retailers, four of whom are in Jakarta.
Another woman retailer, Chris (responsible for petrol station in Tangerang) and Suryati (also responsible for petrol station in Tangerang), also agree with Risye.
”I also learn how to serve customer and handle their inputs well, so we can maintain Quality, Quantity and Service which become our motto,” said Chris, who graduated from faculty of Public Nutrition and Family Resources of Bogor Agriculture Institute (IPB). Chris previously worked as a store manager in a fast food restaurant in Jakarta for 12 years.
The perception of some people that petrol business is a domain for men remains felt by Risye, Chris and Suryati.
“The underestimate image usually comes from people who know about engine. From customers, distributors, even drivers who deal with cars or motorbike’s engines everyday. Maybe it is because they think that woman does not understand much about engine. They are often surprised if I show up and answer their questions,” said Risye.
Another challenge in managing a petrol station according to Risye is how to educate the aspects of health, safety, security and environment (K3L/HSSE) to people visiting her petrol stations. They are not yet accustomed to the concepts, especially on the prohibition to use cell phone in petrol station area or during fueling.
Risye, who graduated from Diploma Program in Management from Airlangga University in 1995, also previously worked in a fast food restaurant for 15 years before becoming retailer of Shell Petrol Station. “The good side in Petrol Station maybe because the commodity we sell is fewer than restaurant menu. Therefore we can be more focused on service quality and management,” added Risye.
From Monday to Thursday, Risye requires all of her employees to attend one hour refresher training on the procedures in the petrol station before they start their shift. This is routinely conducted to remind employees that safety becomes the main priority in their work. Tidy appearance also becomes one aspects of good service quality.
Mother of Salsabila (12 years), Ziya (6 years), and Najmi (8 months) who likes reading and travelling, feels grateful of having a family who supports her career fully. Even with her busy schedule as retailer of Shell petrol station and her husband currently starting his own business, her eldest daughter Salsa was granted an accolade in the Math Olympic when she was in 5th grade of primary school.
“Thank God, no matter how busy myself and my husband are, our children seem to have habits of doing their obligations. Starting from making summary of their lessons and doing their homework up to religious activities such as praying, reading Koran and fasting during the fasting month without having to be closely monitored by us,” said Risye.
In the meantime, Chris admits of having slight difficulty when her son – currently in 2nd grade of Primary School – is in exam period. But, she tries to accompany her son studying and share the duties with her husband who is working in the private sector. So far there is no complaint from her family. The most important thing for her is how she can balance her career and family.
“Along with increasing family needs, it seems that women in this modern age must be able to do multi-tasking with their dual role at home and at work,” said Suryati, who previously managing bridal business prior to Shell petrol station retailer.
What is public perception on division of gender in the employment that draws dichotomy between works for men and women? Okky Asokawati MSi, a member of Commission IX of House of Representative said that perception of Indonesian people on gender-based employment is already disappeared since men and women’s ability is on the same level.
”Unlike in the old days, public perception is now starting to disappear. Women and men have the same opportunity, since their ability is on the same level. Many people also recognize the achievement of women in many fields. What makes it different is just their gender,” said Okky, who is also a psychologist.
Okky added that what needs to be commonly understood is that women in current and future setting must be able to seize the opportunity. “In order to compete with men, women need to continuously improve their knowledge, skills, professionalism and develop them to be able to take positive role in the development process. This requires support from many parties to eliminate gender discrimination in many sectors of development,” said Okky.
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