President Obama's nomination of the qualified, prescient, and eminently deserving Janet Yellen as the chairman (chairwoman?) of the Federal Reserve yesterday will make her — if confirmed — the first woman in history to hold the position. It's far from the only D.C. office never to be occupied by a boss with two X chromosomes: Just seven women are currently serving among the Obama administration's 23 cabinet-level jobs, and only 45 women have held such spots in the history of the country.
Economic and military positions, especially, have generally gone to men in government, even as similar ceilings crack across the workforce, and even after Bill Clinton appointed Madeleine Albright as secretary of State in 1997, making her the highest-ranking woman in the nation, ever. (Two more women followed closely on Albright's heels at State, proving that glass ceilings tend to stay shattered.) While many positions have opened to women over the years, there are still dozens of key jobs in Washington that have only ever been held by men: Three of the top departments have never been headed by a woman, and a few dozen more senior government positions, many of them appointed, are still waiting for their first female. For instance ...
25. Comptroller of the Currency
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees banks, resides within the Treasury, and dates back to 1863, when white men ruled everything. Thirty-one men have held the job since.
24. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
The senior civilian defense official has worked within the Department of Defense since 1986, and always been a man, probably because the position sounds vaguely dangerous.
23. Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
There have been six male "drug czars" since the office was created in 1989, as if women can't be enforcers.
22. Comptroller General, or Director of the Government Accountability Office
Established in 1921, the fiscal accountability office has a term of fifteen years and has been held by eight men overall.
21. Chief Performance Officer
The position meant to measure business performance within the government's management and budget office was introduced by Barack Obama in 2009 and was supposed to go to Nancy Killefer, but she withdrew prior to confirmation hearings owing to a "personal tax issue." A man took her place.
20. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources
When the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State was split into two offices in 2009, the job went to Jacob Lew, and then another man in 2011.
19. Secretary of the Army
This civilian position, created in 1947, has been held by white men, except twice in the nineties when it was filled by African-American men.
18. Librarian of Congress
The person (well, man) who oversees the country's national library and its 22 million catalogued books also gets to pick the U.S. Poet Laureate. This cushy gig has been held by James Billington since the Reagan administration.
17. NASA Administrator
The role of top NASA official and senior space science adviser to the president was created in 1958. The last two deputy administrators, appointed in 2005 and 2009, have been women.
16. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Obama picked retired general Eric Shinseki as the seventh secretary in charge of veterans' benefits in 2008; the officeholder ranks seventeenth and second to last in the line of succession to the presidency.
15. Deputy Secretary of State
While three women have served in the top state spot since 1790, the deputy role, established in 1972, has been all guys.
14. Deputy Secretary of Defense
0 for 30.
13. Secretary of Defense
0 for 24.
12. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
Money has traditionally been for men to handle, even in a deputy role.
11. Secretary of Treasury
And especially in a leading role.
10. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
With women only now allowed in combat, the uniformed advisers to the president will continue to be just men for some time, but maybe not forever.
9. Any Joint Chiefs of Staff
8. White House Chief of Staff
During Obama's presidency alone, five men have filled this pivotal role. Only on West Wing has a woman been the president's gatekeeper.
7. Director of National Intelligence
A woman has been No. 2 at the National Security agency, but never higher.
6. Director of the FBI
Women have hovered around 40 percent of the workforce across the six major intelligence agencies, but Letitia Long became the first woman to lead one in 2010, when she became director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
5. Director of the NSA
Just a little more bad publicity.
4. Director of the CIA
At the CIA, a woman has only made it as high as No. 3. David Petraeus, who resigned in an embarrassing fashion, was replaced by John Brennan, also a man.
3. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Seventeen guys, dating back to 1789, have held the life-tenured spot.
A storied history of almost, from Geraldine Ferraro to Sarah Palin.
There's always next time.