WASHINGTON — The National Organization for Women (NOW) today called on President Obama to appoint Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve.
“There has never been a woman chair of the Fed, and correcting that inequity is long overdue,” said NOW President Terry O’Neill, “but it’s also true that Dr. Yellen is the best person for the job, male or female.”
The Obama Administration is said to be considering Yellen and former Treasury Secretary and Harvard President Lawrence Summers for the post.
“Janet Yellen was one of the few in the Fed system to sound the alarm on subprime mortgages in 2007, while Lawrence Summers shut down Brooksley Born’s effort to crack down on derivatives,” said O’Neill. “It’s not hard to connect the dots: lax regulation contributed to the financial meltdown that ushered in the ‘Great Recession’ – with devastating impacts on women, who have less savings to fall back on because of an enduring gender wage gap. Lawrence Summers can’t be trusted to understand the everyday economic problems women face.”
In 2005, NOW called for Summers to be fired as President of Harvard after he said that women might lack an “intrinsic aptitude” for science and engineering, but his obnoxious views are only part of the problem.
O’Neill decried the sexist “whispering campaign” against Yellen, which includes comments by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher that if Yellen is appointed, the choice will have been “driven by gender.” Fisher did not explain why the appointment of an exceptionally well-qualified woman would be “driven by gender” but the appointment of a man would not. Other comments, as Ezra Klein reports in the Washington Post, are that Yellen lacks “toughness,” is short on “gravitas,” and is too “soft-spoken” or “passive.”
“We have said from the beginning of President Obama’s second term that women need to be included at the very core of his advisor circle,” said O’Neill. “That is, the people who can walk into the Oval Office on a daily basis and have the president’s ear.”
“What’s more, women, working families, the elderly and everyone struggling in today’s economy need an ally at the Fed, not an ambitious insider with a poor record of leadership and independence.”