THE BLOG

Men Fail, only then Women Rule; Lagarde, Yellen, now Flug

11/01/2013 04:18 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Janet Yellen, Karnit Flug, and Christine Lagarde's are women AND in top economic leadership roles. How did that happen? Don't get confused, women aren't making it in the profession. The numbers of missing women in economics gets larger the farther up the profession you go -- in 2012, women were 28 percent of assistant professors; 22 percent of associate professors; and barely one out of ten full professors.

Even though no power dedicated to advancing women economists explains their rise, social progress won the day. Susan B. Anthony's "Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less," the searing tagline of the early women's movement, explains why Janet Yellen, Karnit Flug, and Christine Lagarde are now top economic leaders. Indeed, these women did not get less than they deserved -- they are respected, powerful, and capable intellects. That they deserve their jobs is not news. What is news is this: finally, men got no more. In each case the women replaced men who failed miserably.

In the past, sexual predation -- in the case of Strauss-Kahn; arrogant recklessness and greedy conflict of interest in the case of Larry Summers; and crude criminality, in the case of Jacob Frenkel, would not have stopped men from succeeding.

But today, hooray, Dominique Strauss-Kahn did not become President of France and remain Director of the International Monetary Fund - Christine Lagarde took his place.

Janet Yellen, supremely qualified for the Federal Reserve chair, was President Obama's second or third choice after Larry Summers who was paid millions from the financial industry that he, as Fed chief, would have had to regulate.

Most recently, October 2013 Karnit Flug has been selected Governor of the Bank of Israel. Though witty, creative, and highly qualified Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, had to give up his top choice, Jacob Frenkel, when Hong Kong police reported charging Frenkel for shoplifting in a duty free shop.

LaGarde, Yellen, and Flug did not rise up because of any conscious effort to advance women in the economics profession, they were there, solid and qualified, stupendous (when you paid attention) when the men were not given more than they deserved. "To women no less, to men no more," is the reason these remarkable women are now powerful economists. More progress when women get a top job beating out a perfectly "ok" man.

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