Janet Yellen is expected to receive President Obama’s nomination later today as the next chair of the Federal Reserve Board. She will be the first woman in the organization’s 100 year history to head the central bank.
Many say she is the most qualified candidate for the position. She has served as chair of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, was president and chief executive officer of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Board, and is currently Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
But this morning on the early financial news shows, there was still talk about the role gender played in her expected nomination. It’s been a dominant theme throughout the vetting process. Back in September, Fox Business host Stuart Varney, asked if Yellen was a shoo-in for the position in part because she’s female. And in July, Ezra Klein wrote in The Washington Post about a sexist, “whispering campaign” against Yellen. Many questioned whether she had the gravitas for the position, a question that falls into the subtle sexism category.
No doubt, it’s exciting to think a woman may finally head the Fed, and for those of us who recognize the value of diverse leadership, it’s encouraging to see Obama choose a woman. But the conversation about Yellen doesn’t need to be either or (either he picks a woman or a qualified candidate). The conversation about Yellen should include the words “yes and.” Yes, a woman will head the Federal Reserve, and she has the credentials to lead the organization. Both of those facts can coexist.