Janet Yellen: Triumph of the Female Wonk


Regular readers will note that I’ve had fairly strong opinions about the Fed chair debate. (See this cartoon and blog post about Janet Yellen and Larry Summers.) Naturally, I’m happy to see Obama nominate her.

If she is confirmed, this will be a victory for the quietly-competent wonkwoman. Nerds of various stripes have enjoyed a veritable Rennaissance over the past decade or so — tech developers and data gurus like Nate Silver have enjoyed immense fame and adulation. Yet the wonky lady has been somewhat elusive as a cultural archetype. Many exist, to be sure, but they are all too often rendered invisible. Wired Magazine was roundly flamed a few weeks ago for failing to name a single woman to its list of Government and Security experts you should be reading.

Of course, it took Larry Summers stepping out of the way to (hopefully) get the first female Fed Chair in U.S. history. One thing I found especially galling about that debate was that Yellen’s thorough preparation for meetings reportedly worked against her; Administration officials were said to prefer the freewheeling, off-the-cuff style of Timothy Geithner, or the chummy relationship that was cultivated with “stand-up dude” Larry Summers during the financial crisis. Lost in much of this discussion of personal style is who has been right.

Here’s hoping this glass-ceiling breaks big-time.



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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

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