BOZEMAN, Mont. – According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, women made up more than half of the nation’s workforce in 2017, but women only make up about a quarter of the country’s managers and senior-level positions.
In a time locals are calling historic, Bozeman’s city manager and mayor, as well as the president of Montana State University, are all women.
The trio got together at MSU to empower other women during a Leading and Learning workshop held at the MSU SUB on Thursday.
City Manager Andrea Surratt said in preparing for this event, she realized that over her 28 years in local government not once had she had a female supervisor. That fact not only surprised her, but it made her want to be a role model for young women.
“Today is a topic about women,” said Surratt. “So I want to do that. I want to have the chance to mentor and really do something that maybe I just didn’t get to do growing up in my profession.”
The PEW Research Center reported in 2019, women in U.S. government hold 25% of the legislature, 26% of the cabinet, and 18% of Governor offices. This percentage drops to less than 5% for the nation’s CEO positions.
CEO of Leadership Montana Chantel Schieffer said it has been encouraging in the last year to see more women applicants for her company’s leadership series than men.
“That tells me something,” said Schieffer. “That tells me that we are changing. We are changing the way we think about women in leadership roles. One of my favorite sayings is ’empowered women empower women.’ When we can work in collaboration rather than competition, we are stronger together.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t work still to be done. In 2016, The Center for America Progress reported that 43% of the highest earning companies in Silicon Valley didn’t have any women working at them at all. Mayor Cyndy Andrus wants to figure out what is holding women back.
“There are things that keep women from aspiring to be leaders,” said Andrus. “I hope today that we have that discussion and talk about how we can help young women, in particular, aspire to be leaders and give them the confidence and make opportunities for them in the future.”
“The way it starts is by helping us help provide meaningful role models so that they know it is possible,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “They have what it takes and they can really make a difference.”
More than 200 people were in attendance at the sold-out event.