She may be poised to become the most powerful woman in U.S. history, but many Americans don’t know who Janet Yellen is.
In a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll, 48 percent of Americans said they’ve never heard of Yellen, who President Obama nominated to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve earlier this week. If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first woman to assume this post and become one of the most powerful policymakers in the country and arguably the world.
A large share of Americans don’t really know what Yellen's new job would entail. The HuffPost/YouGov poll also found that 38 percent of Americans understand the role of the Fed chair “not too well” or “not well at all.” (Here is a quick primer on what the Fed chair does if you fall into this category.)
Luckily Yellen is in pretty good company of important people that nobody’s ever heard of. Nearly 70 percent of respondents to a September Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said they didn’t recognize Larry Summers’ name or have an opinion on him. Summers was Yellen’s top rival for the Fed job before he pulled himself out of the running last month.
Bernanke, the current Fed chair, did a little bit better. That same poll found 45 percent of Americans didn’t know who he was or had not heard of him. That’s down from 67 percent in 2007 before the financial crisis, which Bernanke played a big role in cleaning up.
Similarly, a large share of Occupy Wall Street activists fighting for economic justice also hadn't heard of Bernanke. About 8 percent of those gathered at Zuccotti Park polled by New York Magazine in 2011 said the Fed was run by “some old white guy,” which is technically correct. Another 42 percent said they didn’t know who the chairman of the Fed was.
So America, don't be ignorant about the maybe-most important woman in the U.S./world/universe. We've rounded up a few fun Yellen facts to help.
-- She’s 5 ft. tall.
-- She was both the editor in chief of her high school newspaper and valedictorian of her graduating class. This meant she got to interview herself as part of a long-standing tradition where the editor interviews the valedictorian.
-- She’s from Brooklyn, making her the first hipster Fed chair.
-- She has a stamp collection worth up to $50,000.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Oct. 9-10 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.