NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Janet Yellen, if confirmed by the Senate, will become the first woman to run the Federal Reserve in its 100-year history.
This is a truly remarkable achievement, as the central banking world is still largely a male-dominated one.
As the New York Times points out, no woman has ever led the Fed or the Treasury in the U.S. She is one of only two women on the six-member Federal Reserve board. No woman sits on the 23-member policy board of the European Central Bank, according to the report. There are none on the policy board of the Bank of England either and just one on the policy board of the Bank of Japan.
But let us not reduce Yellen's nomination to a statistic, even if it is a new record.Truth be told, I bristled at the initial suggestion of writing a story about her breaking the glass ceiling. After all the woman is vice-chair of the Federal Reserve. She formerly headed the Council of Economic Advisers. She is such an eminent economist that the discussion of her gender trivializes her nomination. Yellen's true achievement, in my opinion, is that her nomination has not been about her gender but about her undeniable qualifications for what is arguably the most important job in finance. In a way, I am glad she was President Obama's second choice, vetted only after the controversial Larry Summers withdrew himself from consideration. I am glad she was not some token nominee meant to fill a slot so that the Obama Administration can talk about diversity in government. I am heartened to find that the instant reaction to her nomination has been a nearly universal acknowledgement of her outstanding track record in forecasting, her analytical rigor and her depth of experience and not some patronizing story about how she managed her family life, though I suspect we will soon see more of those. The fact that she has come so far means that Yellen broke a lot of barriers a long time ago. Women in the field of economics is a rarity in itself, as Gillian Tett points out in an article in the Financial Times.