Spending time with the next female mayor of Bozeman

Last night, the next Mayor of Bozeman hosted an intimate dinner for me then the incumbent Mayor drove me home. My heart is full of love for Bozeman…

My teacher at university used to told his students: “The success of leadership is intimacy and friendliness. Keeping the distance is not the style that work usually“. The first time when I sat down and talked to Cyndy Andrus reminded me about what my teacher said.

I asked her about the difference between serving as a Deputy Mayor and a Mayor and her feeling being the next Mayor of Bozeman. After that, she invited me to come to her house for dinner. This gave me a second time to talk to her and understand this wonderful woman more.

Trang (the author, left) and Cyndy Andrus, the next mayor of Bozeman, MT.It is likely for me to think that a female Mayor tends to be more responsive to the needs and rights of women. Fortunately, Cyndy Andrus has truly been working on with that belief. Spending time with her, I learned about how Bozeman has negotiated with employee’s unions to set the payment for each job title. The payment is decided based on market, the contents, the requirements of the job, the qualification and experience of workers, and obviously not the sex of the worker.

Talking to her on this matter is very interesting since the gender pay equity is one of the big challenges in my country. Vietnam is among countries in the world where gender pay gap has been widen. The situation is getting more severe for Vietnam when statistics shows this gap is bigger here than in many other nations. According to Cyndy Andrus, Bozeman has yet found the best solution for this complicated issue. In Bozeman, men who work in male-dominated professions might earn much money more than women who work in professions that have traditionally assigned for female workers. But for the same job with the same qualification as well as experience requirements, women and men here will likely to get the same salary. Bozeman’s model to deal with this problem amazed me and I hope to bring back home some new ideas.

More importantly, for young woman who want to get involve in politics but still struggle with the common idea that only men should lead, her advice is: “Don’t let them stop you, follow your heart and believe in yourself. Starting with something you’re confident with, gradually building the relationship, being consistent and persistent” These are valuable and inspiring words that a  woman who is successful in leading position can pass to younger generation.

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