Yellen. Yellen Who? Only (possibly) The Most Powerful Woman in the World

Earlier this month, Dr Janet Yellen was confirmed as the Chair of the US Federal Reserve. She will take over on 31 January.

It’s big news … as Sam de Brito writes for the Fairfax network of newspapers:

Business reporter Jessica Irvine last week quoted Westpac senior economist Huw McKay as saying it’s a tight race with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the title of Most Powerful Woman in the World.

“If she’s not number one, then she’s certainly number two,” said McKay, “I think you can make the case Angela Merkel is pretty important. But I think the US Federal Reserve chair – particularly in the political environment in the US where Congress is absolutely gridlocked – is really the dominant force.”

This is big news. For the world, for women and for gender equality. It has the potential to send enormously powerful cultural messages to young girls and women but, up to now, I reckon Miranda Kerr’s dress at the Golden Globes has been given more coverage and thought than Yellen’s ideas, accomplishments and vision.

But we didn’t hear about it. Anywhere. MamaMia, The Hoopla … it was all quiet.┬áThe only reason I heard the news of Yellen’s appointment was because a friend tagged me in a Facebook post alerting me to it. Why is that? Why is this news not getting headlines? Maybe it will when she actually assumes the chair at the end of the month … but at a time when women’s achievements are still being diminished by commentary on their wardrobe or love life (Eugenie Bouchard, the first Canadian woman to make the semifinals in 3 decades was asked who she wants to date – really?!?!) why are we not highlighting these successes? Seriously.

Personally I’ve never been one to ‘complain’ about women’s lot in life … because I generally haven’t experienced sexism. I’ve been lucky. Having said that, I have seen more sexist behaviour and comments now that I work with larger corporate clients, in an industry that is male dominated. I can handle my own though. However, the more I read books like Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In‘, the more I see the omission of headlines like Yellen’s appointment and stupid, sexist (insidious) reporting of successful women the more I realise it is an issue. And an issue that needs to be called out – both in terms of calling out the ‘not it’ behaviour as well as the ‘calling out’ or celebrating the wins and successes of women … in all fields.

So I’ll start doing more of that here.

Sam de Britto has drawn attention to some other awesome women here.