Janet Yellen refuses to discuss the role gender has played in her career, not even to tease President Obama for accidentally calling her “Mr. Yellen.” So the Washington Post went ahead and described all of the women-only headaches Yellen endured on her path to becoming the first female chair of the Federal Reserve — she asks not to be called chairwoman — for her.
Even though Yellen’s appointment now feels long overdue, the Post profile is a vivid reminder that Yellen cut her teeth as an economist and an academic in a time when no one was circulating online petitions on women’s behalves. She was the only woman in her Ph.D. class at Yale and one of two women on the faculty of Harvard’s economics department. (The self-described token hires became fast friends, authoring five papers together.) She then spent two decades as a so-called “trailing spouse” to her Nobel Laureate husband George Akerlof, also a famous economist. She followed him to the London School of Economics and Berkeley, accepting the junior, consolation positions the schools offered her, including one in Berkeley’s business school, considered second class to other economists.
“I realized she was very undervalued,” LSE professor emeritus Meghnad Desai told the Post, of Yellen. “She was conscious that she was not being valued to the extent that she should have been.” He added: “I never thought that the world would finally recognize and reward her the way that it has. She has punched her way to the top by sheer ability.”
At Berkeley, Yellen gave birth to her son in the summer of 1981 and went back to teaching the following fall — Berkeley had no maternity-leave policy at the time— in order to secure tenure by his first birthday.
The Post stresses that Yellen and Akerlof crucially and seamlessly swapped roles as Yellen’s star rose, with Akerlof trailing Yellen to D.C. and San Francisco and back. But her career-changing appointment to the Fed’s Board of Governors came at the hands of another woman, Berkeley colleague and Clinton adviser Laura D’Andrea Tyson.
Most Viewed Stories
The Fashion Executive Who Doesn’t Wear Underwear on Dates
25 Famous Women on Being Alone
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Prince George Has No Time for Justin Trudeau’s High Fives
How Angelina Jolie Won the First Big Battle in Her Divorce
It’s Time to Get Over Your White Feelings and Start Taking Action for Black Lives
Madame Clairevoyant: Horoscopes for the Week of September 26
The Will & Grace Reunion Was Intensely Documented for Social Media
Amy Schumer Went All Out for the Kiss Cam at a Mets Game
Los Angeles Police Confirm Active Criminal Investigation Against Derrick Rose
From Our Partners
Who What Wear
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesAva DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.Santigold’s New Video Is the Result of a Spontaneous Run-in With Kara Walker
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Spotted Together Again, Love Might Be Real
They could be back together ahh!Teen, Forced to Go on Vacation With Her Family, Calls 911
The logical decision.Report: Hearst Fired Seventeen EIC Michelle Tan During Her Maternity Leave
Tan had been at the magazine for about two years.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.Miles Teller Is Still Upset About Being Called a Dick
He wants to set the record straight.Why Parents Shouldn’t Talk About Weight With Their Teens
New guidelines seek to banish weight talk.UVA Student Assaulted at Knifepoint During Orientation Weekend
But some students weren't notified until 24 hours later.