Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why Janet Yellen rocks my boat!!!

"Inequality has risen to the point that it seems to me worthwhile for the U.S. to seriously consider taking the risk of making our economy more rewarding for more of the people; I am anxious to fix welfare. There has to be more training and child care" --- Janet Yellen, nominated Fed chief.

Janet Yellen is my kind of woman. First off, she's my age, born in 1946. Secondly, she's at the top of her game as an economist and soon-to-be chairman of the Federal Reserve System when she replaces Ben Bernanke in January 2014.
She's taught at Harvard University, served as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She was chair of President Clinton's Council of Economic advisers and most important to me, she is a teacher.
Yellen at age 67 is among a select few women on my radar screen who have labored in the trenches over a life-time career to reach the pinnacle of their professions after age 60. Yet if you look at lists of famous women born in 1946 you will find that many, if not most, are in the entertainment business. Cher, 67, soon will be out on her Dressed to Kill tour touting her newest album, "Closer to the Truth."  Wikipedia describes Cher as among the earliest mid-century American entertainers to "bring self-actualization to the entertainment industry" by epitomizing "female autonomy." Former rock star Linda Ronstadt, 67, is out with her memoir "Simple Dreams," and is making her recent diagnosis with Parkinson's disease into a new personal cause. Steel Magnolia Dolly Parton, 67, is set to release her 42nd album of songs next year to be followed by a tour.
Others of my age....Candice Bergen, Patty Duke, Laura Bush, Andrea Mitchell and Judy Woodruff, a host of PBS Evening News. All intelligent women who have gone out there, made it to the top and done something important. But it is Yellen who most excites me because of her potential to influence young women: First, to set their career goals high, starting with a good education and secondly by bringing renewed discussion to the issue of women, employment potential and financial literacy.
Women across the globe have joined the wage-earning workforce from India to Africa, Europe to the U.S. in the past century. However few women are in continuous full-time employment. They face the wage gap and the glass ceiling, which in turn means living in poverty in their final years for lack of retirement savings.
The "ideal worker norm," remains tilted toward men who work full-time for 40 years straight while women are juggling full-time jobs and family care at home, says a summary of "Women in the Workforce" at Wikipedia. As a result, only 13 of America's largest 500 companies are run by women. Women account for just 2 percent of top executive positions and only 6 percent of lower-level executive positions, says Investopedia.com in a 2012 piece.
Yellen will face tough challenges in her new job as Fed Chairman...the U.S. economy, Congress, banking regulation, bond-buying policy and interest rate management. She has the additional opportunity in this high-profile job to show the way for other women who hope to win top management positions and to lead.
As well she can heighten the discussion regarding women and financial literacy by making money management, job development and long-term investment strategies part of the political discussion among educators, elected officials, top business leaders and entertainment industry executives who have so much power to influence young women.
Here's what we know:
- Some 47 percent of women report that they ignore their household budgets or worse – don’t have one in the first place.
- Compared to counterparts in other nations, women in the U.S. have a particularly bleak view of our teenagers’ money management skills, with 72.9 percent saying that U.S. teens don’t understand money management basics, according to Visa's International Barometer of Women's Financial Literacy.
- Women must develop a clear strategy for long-term saving and retirement planning. They can't just save a little here and there and hope for the best. An estimated 48 percent of women do not have any retirement strategy at all, despite the fact that 56 percent of women expect to self-fund their retirement through 401(k)s, retirement accounts, or other savings and investments, reports Manisha Thakor, founder of MoneyZen Wealth Management. Fifty-three percent of women expect to retire after age 65 or do not plan to retire at all. Most of these women cite reasons related to income or health benefits as the reason for this.
- Some 54 percent of women are "not too confident" or "not at all confident," (compared to only 44 percent of men who share that sentiment) in their ability to fully retire in a comfortable lifestyle.
Janet, you have the power to create a nationwide goal for improving the financial literacy of women in a way unique to your office. Good luck as you take on this new national leadership job with all of its challenging dimensions.  Maybe, you and Cher should talk about getting closer to the truth about women, careers and money.

Yours in the sisterhood.
Julia

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