With Ben Bernanke leaving the Federal Reserve this fall, one is left to wonder who will be appointed next chairman: former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers or the current Vice Chairman, Janet Yellen.
While Yellen receives much of the criticism concerning gender-based affirmative action, it is unsurprising that the statistics of women ages 25-54 active in the labor force has not changed since 1990. Only 74% of women participate in the job market.
Since the 1950s, the U.S. has experienced a 40% increase in the number of women employed. In spite of this progressive trend, there hasn’t been much statistical change over the past twenty years.
But within the years leading up to 1990, the 1970s experienced a special growth in women employment. President Nixon became the first president to appoint a female economist to the Council of Economic Advisors, which was formed in 1946. His administration accomplished revolutionary advancements such as the passage of Title IX in the omnibus education bill, and the surge of high-level federal appointments for qualified women.
As pressure escalates for President Obama to “break the glass ceiling at the Federal Reserve” by appointing Yellen—to which the Atlantic Wire calls the ‘sexism test’—one might consider President Nixon’s thoughts on equal opportunity from his book, Beyond Peace:
Individuals differ significantly in the natural endowments of intelligence, skills, character, perseverance, and just plain luck on which success in life depends. The Constitution and its underlying philosophy affirm that individuals must be given the right to succeed on the basis of merit, which implies that not all will succeed equally…The case of Lani Guinier is revealing. Her nomination for the top civil rights post in the Justice Department was withdrawn by President Clinton because of the storm over her advocacy of proportional representation for politically correct minorities, but what got her into trouble was more her candor than her ideas…
This institutionalization of preferential treatment, with the theory of group rights it represents, undermines the basic principles of our Constitution and a free society. It repudiates the idea of merit essential to a competitive and fair society.