Janet Yellen: Celebrating Women’s History Month

Highlighting Janet Yellen, the first woman as U.S. Secretary Treasury and Chair of the Federal Reserve.

Women’s history month’s origins can be traced back to 1981 when Congress passed a resolution that designated the week of March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.” It was requested of President Reagan to issue a proclamation “calling upon the people of the United States to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” Following this, Congress passed resolutions yearly for the next five years to designate one week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, Congress passed a resolution officially making the month of March “Women’s History Month.”

Janet Yellen: Official Federal Reserve Portrait

The proclamations made in the 80s were made to celebrate the efforts and contributions that have been made to the U.S. and to applaud the amazing achievements made by women throughout the country’s history.

Janet Yellen: A Woman of Firsts

Janet Yellen was sworn into office as the 78th Secretary of the Treasury of the United States on January 26, 2021. After spending nearly fifty years of her career in academia and public service, she took office. She’s not only the first woman but the first person in the history of America to have led the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department.

Secretary Yellen received her education in economics. She graduated from Brown University in 1967 and then earned her Ph.D. from Yale. Until 1976, she worked as an assistant professor at Harvard when she left the university and began working at the Federal Reserve Board. She returned to education in 1980 as a faculty member of the University of California at Berkley where she became the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics. She now holds the title of Professor Emeritus at UC Berkley.

Her time in academia has focused on a varying range of issues pertaining to labor and
macroeconomics. She did work with her husband, who she met working at the Fed, on “efficiency wages.” She researched and studied why businesses so often decide to pay their employees more than the minimum required. They discovered that these businesses are making smart business decisions. When firms offer higher pay and favorable conditions, the employees tend to reward them with more morale, lower turnover, and higher productivity.

Her Work with the Government:

President Bill Clinton, in 1994, appointed, at the time, Dr. Yeller to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. After holding this position for three years, President Clinton named her Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. In 2004, Secretary Yeller began her third tenure at the Federal Reserve. At this time she was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Fransisco. While in this position she spotted an economic trend that was very worrying to her. It was a bubble in home values. After the burst of the housing bubble in 2008, Secretary Yellen assisted in managing the financial crisis and recession that followed.

President Barack Obama appointed her Vice-Chair of the Federal Reserve in 2010. He then nominated her to succeed Fed Chair Benjamin Bernanke as the nation’s top central banker. She served as Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. In December of 2020, then-President-elect-Biden nominated her to the post of Treasury Secretary. When speaking on Dr. Yellen he said that “She has spent her career focused on unemployment and the dignity of work… she understands what it means to people and their communities when they have good, decent jobs.”

Secretary Yellen’s Other Accomplishments:

Before serving at the Treasury Department, Secretary Yellen was a Distinguished Fellow in Residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. From 2020 to 2021 Secretary Yellen served at the American Economic Association as President of the institution. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations as wells as a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council.
She’s served on multiple advisory boards such as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Fix the Debt Coalition (CRFB), the Bloomberg New Economic Forum, and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth Steering Committee. In 2000 she was elected to the Yales Corporation as an alumni fellow and served until 2006. Secretary Yellen has received honorary doctorates from Bard College, Brown, the London School of Economics, NYU, the University of Baltimore, the University of Michigan, the University of Warwick, and Yale.
Information from www.treasury.gov
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