Janet Yellen punches through ‘glass ceiling’ as first female chair of Fed

Janet Yellen punches through ‘glass ceiling’ as first female chair of Fed

Janet Yellen punches through ‘glass ceiling’ as first female chair of Fed

US Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen stands after testifying during a confirmation hearing on her nomination to be the next chairman of the US Federal Reserve before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington in this Nov 14 file photo. REUTERS photo

Janet Yellen, a skilled economist and gifted communicator who likes to hike and cook, made history as the U.S. Senate confirmed her to be the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve in its 100-year history.

Yellen, 67, the central bank’s number two since 2010, will take over as chair of the Fed after Ben Bernanke’s term comes to a close at the end of this month. In doing so, she will take the reins of the world’s largest economy and become the most powerful person in the world of finance.

“Her well-deserved ascension to the chair knocks a notable hole in the glass ceiling that has for far too long kept women from the most powerful jobs in the country,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, a liberal advocacy group, told Reuters she hoped Yellen’s confirmation would pave the way for other women to climb to the top rungs of finance.

“The financial industry is a place where women have been aggressively excluded from the top, top management,” O’Neill said. “Janet Yellen can make a difference.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of the 11 Republicans who voted for Yellen, expressed the same hope.
“I wish that we had more senior women in these financial circles,” she said. “And perhaps with her leadership that will act as a motivator to young women to get into the field.”

In a 1995 interview, Yellen noted that women were under-represented at the highest levels of most groups and said she thought it would likely take a long time for that to change.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my life,” Yellen told the Minneapolis Fed. “I don’t feel that I’ve faced discrimination. I’ve had every chance to succeed and more, and I think that’s what all women sould have.” “Anytime anyone is the first to achieve something of great import and notoriety -- that is a Big Deal, and in the case of Janet Yellen becoming the first female Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, it is HUGE,” Ethan Siegal of the Washington Exchange, a private firm that tracks Washington for investors, wrote in an email to Reuters.

“The Federal Reserve Board has basically had to step in over the past 5 years to be the only economic policy makers to show-up 24/7/365, and act with an air of confidence and maturity which is what you want from your National Leaders,” Siegal added.

Prior to becoming the Fed’s vice chair, Yellen served as president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank. She also had served a stint on the Fed’s board in the 1990s and was a top economic adviser to President Bill Clinton.