Janet Yellen vs. Lawrence Summers
Recently, many have suggested that the selection of our next Fed Chairman has come down to gender. The top contenders, Janet Yellen and Lawrence Summers, both have impressive qualifications, yet some have suggested that Yellen should be selected precisely because of her gender. After all, they say, she’d be the first female Fed Chairman, and Obama has not promoted enough women to top positions.
Initially it may seem absurd to select a critical decision-maker, such as Fed Chairman, based on gender alone – there is certainly no research that supports gender-based differences in ability to run the central banking system. In fact, you may think our goal should be just the opposite – to entirely ignore gender in the selection just as we would ignore other characteristics such as eye color or hair color.
However, keeping an open mind, I decided to take a closer look at well-documented gender differences to see if they would favor Yellen or Summers. It turns out there is substantial research that indicates that gender may play an important role in the job. It’s a close call, but if we’re using gender to choose the next Fed Chairmen, then Yellen seems to be the candidate of choice.
- Women live longer. Given Alan Greenspan was Fed Chairman for almost 20 years, Obama should choose the candidate most likely to be around for a while. üYellen
- Women worry more. Women produce only about half the serotonin that men do, and as a result women tend to worry more. Worrying about the economy and the economic forecast would be a positive characteristic for a Fed Chairman. üYellen
- Men tolerate lack of sleep better than women. The Fed Chairman will most likely have some sleepless nights, and women who miss sleep are more likely to exhibit negative health symptoms than men. üSummers
- Men more likely to commit white collar crimes. It would be embarrassing if our Fed Chairmen was stuck behind bars. üYellen
- Women make less money than men. On average women make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The Fed Chairman makes about $200,000. So, we’d only have to pay Yellen $154,000, saving taxpayers $46,000 per year. üYellen
- Men have more physical strength. After a controversial decision the Fed Chairman may need to battle/run from those who oppose his or her reforms. A man would be stronger and faster in these self-defense measures. üSummers
- Men are more likely to eat fast food. That leaves more time to focus on important economic policy. üSummers
- No gender differences in sexting. We don’t want any nude snapshots of our Fed Chairman floating around, but gender doesn’t seem to play a role in this behavior.
- Men are better at spatial relationships. If an economic forecast graph is presented upside down, Summers will still be able to tell if the forecast is positive or negative. üSummers
- Women are better at remembering where things are. (As gatherers in hunter/gatherer civilizations women evolved to remember landmarks). Thus, Yellen is less likely to get lost on her way to work. üYellen
Summers photo courtesy of cnn.com and Yellen photo from federalreserve.gov.