Fair Day’s Pay? Women’s Pay Gap Persists

Women made 82.3% of men’s annual earnings last year.

And that’s not the most concerning bit of news, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report that reviewed the pay gap based on gender.

Today, women’s earnings still trail men in more than 350 occupations. To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed women’s participation in the workforce back by 30 years. In February 2021, women’s labor force participation rate was 55.8%, which was the same rate back in April 1987.

Michael C. Fallings, a partner at law firm Tully Rinckey PLLC, says there has been a recent uptick in Equal Pay Act cases due to societal movements and employers’ failure to conduct full reviews before setting pay.

“Federal employed women can ask for desk audits of their current position to determine if they are being paid appropriately,’’ Fallings says. “They can also file claims so that the agency can conduct an investigation into the pay discrepancies.”

According to Fallings, federal employees may file claims under the Equal Pay Act (EPA) directly in federal court.  

EPA claims against the Federal government amounting to more than $10,000 must be filed in the Court of Federal Claims.  A federal action under the EPA must be filed within two years of the last discriminatory paycheck or, in cases where there is willful conduct, three years since the last discriminatory paycheck.  This option should allow the claims to be processed quicker but does not provide an investigative record to rely upon.

Federal employees may also file claims with the EEO office at their agency.  If the EPA claim is first filed with the agency, the federal employee must allow the agency 180 days to complete the investigation of the claims before moving to federal court or an EEOC Administrative Judge. These claims must be filed within 45 days of the last discriminatory paycheck.  This option may take longer but allows an investigation to help gather evidence to support the claims. 

Federal employees can prove an EPA claim by establishing that they engaged in substantially similar work as an employee of the opposite sex and were paid less than the employee of the opposite sex.  The burden then shifts to the Government to prove that the discrepancy in pay was for a reason other than sex.  The key difference between the burden of proof under the EPA versus Title VII claims is that the EPA does not require the complainant to prove intentional discrimination.

Key Factors in Equal Pay Act Claim

The EPA considers content of a job, not its title, to determine whether jobs are substantially equal.

There are several factors that establish a job’s content:

  • Skill: This factor considers experience, ability, education and training required to perform the job. It does not consider the skills that the individual employees may have.
  • Effort: The amount of physical and mental effort needed to perform the job is considered.
  • Responsibility: The level of accountability would also be considered in performing the job.
  • Working Conditions: Factors include various characteristics, such as temperature, ventilation and possible hazards.
  • Establishment: The distinct physical place of business is a key part of the mix.

Differences in pay are allowed in certain situations when they are based on quantity or quality of production and seniority.

As a trusted partner of FEW, Tully Rinckey PLLC promotes professional development, leadership and equity for the inclusion of women.  FEW and Tully Rinckey have a Memo of Understanding, and with this agreement, FEW members are entitled to one free half-hour telephone consultation each year with one of Tully Rinckey’s experienced attorneys, and members who pursue their legal claims with Tully Rinckey will be entitled to a 10% discount in legal fees. For more information or to schedule a consultation with a Tully Rinckey attorney, please call (888) 529-4543, or visit www.tullylegal.com

Science Says: How to Lead, Motivate People

Motivation is a more insightful factor when forecasting career success, compared to intelligence, ability and salary, according to research. Here are four time-tested, science-supported ways to motivate other people so you will have a winning team:

Pay Them With Purpose

Research tells us that rewards work. In fact, they tap into perceived self-interest and account for about 75% of personal motivation toward accomplishment. However, this tactic tends to be successful when the task is tied to manual labor.

When the job calls for more creativity and analytical thinking, a reward can hinder results. To be clear, you should pay your team members enough to stop them from thinking about money. Once that happens, you can motivate them with autonomy, mastery and purpose. As a leader, it will be up to you to create those environments.

Sell Them on an Emotional Level

Feelings are powerful motivators.

The human brain is set up to do what we feel.

To motivate others, you will need to make them feel something long before they think something.

The recipe is simple in theory: Feel + Think = Believe. This equation is how you change people’s minds and their behaviors. Think about all the things that you believe. It’s because you feel it with the emotional side of your brain and it’s because you think it with the logical side of your brain.

In the workplace, if you address your team members’ feelings, you can change their behavior.

Show Them Progress

When it comes to motivation, progress is the most powerful factor.

As a leader, facilitating progress for your team members is a big part of your job. In fact, satisfaction is 22% more likely for individuals with a steady stream of minor accomplishments than those individuals who only express interest in major “wins”, according to research.

Persistent people, who continue despite challenges, think about what they have accomplished twice as much as the amount work that remains.

Unfortunately, motivation dies when team members believe their effort is useless and the objective is meaningless.

Tell Them a Story

Stories bring people together and give meaning to work.

It’s been said that, “stories are the most powerful weapon in the leader’s literary arsenal.”

A story is a form of currency, which begs the question, “How will you spend it?”

To get the biggest bang for your buck, start your storytelling with the motivation behind the task. Great stories begin with why, not what or when.

People are more interested in why we do things, as opposed to what we do. Make them believe in the mission by telling them a story.

FEW Hosts Virtual STEM Event Sept. 22

Federally Employed Women will soon empower the public sector to motivate more women to undertake careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

FEW’s free virtual event, Back2STEM, will be held September 22 virtually from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To register, visit www.few.org/stem today.

Several federal agencies, such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Transportation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are supporting this ground-breaking event.

“At FEW, we pride ourselves on being part of the solution,” said FEW National President Karen M. Rainey. “We are grateful to bring a large swath of the federal government together with entry-level professionals, as well as college and high school students to focus on technology. We must always build tomorrow today.”

Although women are catching up to men in STEM professions, they still lag. Women make up 48% of all employees, but only account for 27% of the jobs in the STEM sector. 

Women accounted for only 32.4% of all STEM degree recipients, even though the top STEM professions can generate seven-figure incomes:

  • Petroleum Engineering (Median Salary: $129,990)
  • Computer Engineering (Median Salary: $111,730)
  • Mathematics (Median Salary: $111,110)
  • Aerospace Engineering (Median Salary: $107,830)
  • Nuclear Science & Engineering (Median Salary: $102,950)
  • Software Development (Median Salary: $100,690)

Back2STEM is a full day of training and live demos with an interactive career fair focused on sharing a wealth of information in key science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies. The event is geared for entry-level professionals in STEM careers or related STEM careers, STEM colleges and universities, as well as high school juniors and seniors with an interest in STEM.

There will be several cutting-edge topics that will be featured during the action-packed day:

  • Aviation
  • Climate Control & Meteorology
  • Cybersecurity
  • Drones
  • Engineering with Special Emphasis in Robotics
  • Exhibit Hall & Career Fair
  • Information Technology & Space
  • STEM Career Pathways in the Federal Government & College Readiness

To register for this unique event, visit www.few.org/stem today.

FEW Helps Federally Employed Women

Federally Employed Women (FEW) helps more than one million women in the military and civilian workforce become strategic leaders with its four-pillar program: training, legislation, diversity and compliance. Since 1968, the nonprofit has advocated for equity and diversity for women. FEW works toward advancing women in government with cutting-edge training, nationwide networking and invaluable insight. For more information, please visit FEW.org.

Consider how the association’s experience helps advance its members:

  • Training: FEW provides members with knowledge about 1) the federal system, 2) career development and planning techniques and 3) personal effectiveness and awareness of the broader issues that impact women. The nonprofit produces nationwide training on the national, regional and chapter levels.
  • Mentoring: FEW offers mentoring opportunities to advance professional development and leadership skills through the year.
  • Networking: FEW delivers opportunities for members to network and develop mutually beneficial, professional relationships that will help them advance in their careers.
  • Community Outreach: FEW provides countless community outreach opportunities on the chapter level that give back to communities, sparking fellowship among members. 
  • Legislation: FEW represents federal employees’ concerns and interests before legislative and judicial bodies. We also produce a “scorecard” that recognizes congressional members who support FEW’s agenda.
  • Diversity: FEW develops strategies to identify and eliminate barriers and increase diversity by examining the demographics of the workforce, including socioeconomic status, communication, thinking styles and family composition.
  • Compliance: FEW works with federal agencies to help deliver a more equitable and diverse workforce. We monitor the progress made by the federal government in achieving equal employment opportunity evidenced by its adherence to statutory civil rights protections. 
  • Member Benefits: FEW offers various member benefits ranging from a job bank, legal consultations, a newsletter and discounts on training.

To join our special community and advance your career, please visit our website today.

FEW Online Training Features Leadership Development

Virtual Leadership Summit II Set for August 9-13

In the workplace, leaders have the responsibility of managing the well-being of an organization, while reacting in real-time to developments going on around them.

Leadership roles are defined yet evolving constantly.

So how are you doing?

As part of the Federally Employed Women’s Virtual Leadership Summit II, Mallary Tytel, PhD, of Healthy Workplaces, will provide training on leadership development, a skill set that speaks to today’s and tomorrow’s bottom line for any organization.

It’s also a timely skill that is in great demand. According to a recent Gallup survey, only 22% of teams believe leaders have a clear direction for their company.

Tytel’s workshop at the Virtual Leadership Summit II, August 9-13, will accomplish the following:

  • Explore a common understanding of leadership and leadership development.
  • Practice an opportunity for individual assessment and feedback.
  • Identify and explore the critical skills and competencies of leaders.
  • Understand the concepts and implications of problem solving, decision making, adapting to change, communication, and planning.

“Leadership is more than position or title,” writes Tytel on her website. “It is a participatory process that acknowledges the importance of taking a proactive position: mutual responsibility and accountability, learning and growth, informed decision making, inclusion, and creating economic, political and social change. We work to optimize personal leadership and maximize the success of both the individual and her organization.”

An experienced, hands-on CEO, Tytel has a unique blend of business, government, education, and community-based practice spanning more than 20 years. She is a skilled architect in start-up, turn-around, and acquisition situations, with expertise in human systems dynamics, complexity science, culture change, strategy, and leadership development. Effective at diagnosing key issues and problem solving, she has a strong track record and commitment to excellence, innovation and results. Most recently, her work is devoted to leveling the playing field: supporting women leaders at all professional levels and building diverse, inclusive, and equitable communities.

Tytel is the former CEO of an international nonprofit behavioral health and human resource development corporation. She has served as a key advisor to senior-level civilian and military personnel within the U.S. Department of Defense and she has provided oversight for three Congressionally mandated pilot programs in 16 communities across the country as well as delivered an innovative leadership training program in more than 40 diverse communities worldwide.

Tytel offers a checklist on how managers can be begin nurturing and developing leadership at their respective organizations:

  • Start a formal, high-level succession-planning process that includes senior executives, HR, and external experts. Outline specific activities and cascade it through the company.
  • Create leadership development programs that bridge gaps in your company’s talent pool to ensure a deep bench for critical positions within the organization.
  • Although HR can be a great resource for development tools, business units themselves should own the leadership development activities.
  • Reshuffle rising stars throughout the company, taking care that “A” players are exchanged for other “A” players.
  • Make sure that your leadership development program is in sync with your strategy, reinforces your company’s brand, and has support from your managers and employees.
  • Be sure that your board of directors and top management are visible and vocal in their support and commitment to leadership development. 

To sign up for Tytel’s training about leadership development, click on the registration page for the Virtual Leadership Summit II.

Why You Need Project Management Training

Project managers should be comfortable with data.

So let’s start with some numbers that underscore the need for you to learn some project management skills:

  • $1 million is wasted every 20 seconds, which equates to $2 trillion a year, by organizations globally because of shoddy implementation of business strategy from poor project management practices, according to a global survey by Project Management Institute.
  • A pending shortage of project managers may result in a $207.9 billion GDP loss by 2027.

That’s why you should register for this year’s Virtual Leadership Summit II event.

Federally Employed Women (FEW) will deliver a premier experience, August 9-13, that will help their members advance their careers. The week-long, online training event will offer more than 100 specialized courses on a variety of topics, including EEO, human resources, information technology, project management, as well as management and leadership. All courses align with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Executive Core Competencies (i.e., leading people, leading change, business acumen, result driven and building coalitions). FEW’s virtual platform also will have interactive exhibition features and plenty of opportunities for networking. Registration is open.

As part of this year’s offerings, “Introduction to Project Management Basics” will be available to attendees. This introductory course will provide an overview of project management, explain the five phases of project management and explain basic tools that can be used to manage any project. The participants will get a chance to actively practice completing a simple project plan during the course. The target audience for this session includes human resources professionals, managers, supervisors or those preparing for leadership roles, those new to project management, those who have not managed projects recently and those who have never taken a formal approach to project management.

Sheryl Vogt of Vogt Consulting Inc. will be the instructor for the upcoming training course. Citing a recent trends piece in Forbes magazine, she said project managers will embrace customized or hybrid project management approaches and methodologies. “To be prepared for this trend, anyone who is managing projects should be aware of and comfortable using recognized project management methods,” she says. “This course will introduce new project managers to the five phases and relevant tools for traditional project management. With this introduction, new project managers will have the basis to start using this method and tools in their own projects and also will have taken the first step toward understanding what they will need if they want to advance their project management skills for larger projects.”

Vogt has been working with process improvement programs such as Lean and Six Sigma since 1996 when she was trained as one of the first Black Belts at the General Electric Co. After working successfully as a Black Belt and Master Black Belt in manufacturing, engineering and service areas for General Electric, she began work as an independent consultant in 2000 and started Vogt Consulting Inc. in 2002.

As a consultant, she has assisted numerous organizations in all aspects of their continuous improvement efforts, including developing deployment plans with organizational leaders, mentoring and training individuals and facilitating improvement teams. She has developed and delivered Lean Six Sigma programs for manufacturing, service, health care and government organizations and has trained and mentored hundreds of Black and Green Belts on their projects.

Vogt holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University.

Register today for FEW’s Virtual Leadership Summit II and start advancing your career with more than 100 training opportunities.

FEW Presents Virtual Leadership Summit II: New Training Helps Members ‘Soar to New Heights’ August 9-13

Federally Employed Women will present its new premier training event, Virtual Leadership Summit II, on August 9-13 to help its members advance their careers.

The week-long, online training event will offer more than 100 specialized courses on a variety of topics, including EEO, human resources, information technology, project management, as well as management and leadership. All courses align with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Executive Core Competencies (i.e. leading people, leading change, business acumen, result driven and building coalitions). FEW’s virtual platform also will have interactive exhibition features and plenty of opportunities for networking. Registration is open.

“It’s always the right time to improve yourself and soar to new heights,” said FEW National President Karen M. Rainey. “Our online event, Virtual Leadership Summit II, will help attendees develop their skills in countless ways without the expense of lodging and travel. Now is the time to rise and create new opportunities for a richer life—from the comfort of your home.”

The Virtual Leadership Summit II offers a range of invaluable workshops, including:

  • Workplace Civility
  • The Human Dimension of Leadership
  • Critical Thinking: A Focused Path to Problem Solving
  • Introduction to Project Management Basics
  • Building Your Beach – Keys to Building a Leadership Pipeline

About Federally Employed Women

Federally Employed Women (FEW) helps more than one million women in the military and civilian workforce become strategic leaders with its four-pillar program: training, legislation, diversity and compliance. Since 1968, the nonprofit has advocated for equity and diversity for women. FEW works toward advancing women in government with cutting-edge training, nationwide networking and invaluable insight.

FEW members experience a comprehensive program that positions them for professional development and a fulfilling career in the federal workforce.

Consider how the association’s experience helps advance its members:

  • Training: FEW provides members with knowledge about 1) the federal system, 2) career development and planning techniques, and 3) personal effectiveness and awareness of the broader issues that impact women. The nonprofit produces nationwide training on the national, regional and chapter levels.
  • Mentoring: FEW offers mentoring opportunities to advance professional development and leadership skills through the year.
  • Networking: FEW delivers opportunities for members to network and develop mutually beneficial, professional relationships that will help them advance in their careers.
  • Community Outreach: FEW provides countless community outreach opportunities on the chapter level that give back to communities, sparking fellowship among members.
  • Legislation: FEW represents federally employees’ concerns and interests before legislative and judicial bodies. We also produce a “scorecard” that recognizes congressional members who support our agenda.
  • Diversity: FEW develops strategies to identify and eliminate barriers and increase diversity by examining the demographics of the workforce, including socioeconomic status, communication, thinking styles and family composition.
  • Compliance: FEW works with federal agencies to help deliver a more equitable and diverse workforce. We monitor the progress made by the federal government in achieving equal employment opportunity evidenced by its adherence to statutory civil rights protections.
  • Member Benefits: FEW offers various member benefits ranging a job bank, legal consultations, a newsletter and discounts on training.

For more information about advancing your career, please visit FEW.org.

Unsung Hero: Alex Tremble Awards FEW for Leadership

When podcast host Alex Tremble recognized unsung heroes of federal service for their leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, he bestowed his honor on several worthy individuals who shined during a time of uncertainty in 2020.

But he made one exception. Tremble also honored one organization for its ability to adapt and serve its members. And that award went to Federally Employed Women (FEW).

Out of more than 500 write-in nominations, FEW was the one organization that people chose as their unsung hero.

“This organization is on fire!” Tremble proclaimed on “The Alex Tremble Show” as it honored FEW.

During a national shutdown in 2020, FEW quickly adapted and moved its operations online so its members—stretched out over 10 regions and 90 chapters across the country— could continue to network, train and communicate.

FEW’s National President Karen Rainey, who appeared on “The Alex Tremble Show” to accept the honor, said the pandemic ultimately motivated the organization to expand its reach globally by shifting its operations online.

Oddly, the organization found itself in the right place and right time. Rainey’s strengths in project management, IT and communications positioned FEW to help more people when more people were searching for a lifeline.

“I’m a servant,” said Rainey when asked about her purpose. “I try to assist as many people in the world to find their purpose and their dreams. That is my purpose—to elevate people to achieve more to conquer more to dream bigger—and that’s why it’s so exciting to serve as president of FEW.”

Rainey said the contributions from members have made FEW a successful organization that continues to advance women in government for 53 years. FEW is open to new volunteer members who are willing to give their time and talent to something bigger than themselves.

“When you volunteer, you are gaining relationships,” Tremble said. “You are building skills.”

As a lifelong member of FEW, Angela Lewis made the decision to invest in herself and develop her professional skills so she could advance her career. Earlier this year, Lewis used her drive and determination to shatter a glass ceiling, when the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane’s Division promoted her to technical director. She is the first women to hold that position.

As the senior civilian at the command, she leads 3,800 military and government civilians, providing the Navy with multi-domain, multi-spectral, full life cycle support in the mission areas of Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. 

From Lewis’ perspective, helping FEW means helping yourself.

“It’s great to see what the organization can do for you, but it can only be as strong as the people are willing to give,” Lewis said. “They will only get out of it what they are willing to invest.”

FEW helps more than one million women in the military and civilian workforce become strategic leaders with its four-pillar program: training, legislation, diversity and compliance. Since 1968, the nonprofit has advocated for equity and diversity for women. FEW works toward advancing women in government with cutting-edge training, nationwide networking and invaluable insight. 

“I help people soar,” Rainey said. “To soar, you have to climb first.”

If you are ready to climb so you can develop yourself, join FEW today and begin the journey.

Equal Rights Amendment: Why It’s More Important Today

Do you remember 1972?

Gasoline was 55 cents a gallon. A new home cost a little more than twice your average income, which was just shy of $12,000 a year. Rent was $65 a month. And the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was passed by the U.S. Senate and sent to the states for ratification.

That was a real long time ago.

So we know what happened to a gallon of gas. It’s headed toward four bucks a gallon this summer.

But whatever happened to the ERA? Well, a lot. In any case, members of the Federally Employed Women (FEW) need to read carefully because this story will actually end with us.

“In order to understand the ‘why’ as it relates to the Equal Rights Amendment and its importance for women, you need to understand the journey of women as a class,” said Shabiki E.C. Clarke, who is FEW’s vice president for Congressional Relations. “It is impacted by the social, economic, political and moral components, which help to convey equality to women.”

The ERA is a proposal that would add gender and gender identity protections to the nation’s premier legal document, the U.S. Constitution. As written, the Constitution doesn’t mention “women” or “sex” (i.e. gender). Proposed language from section 1 of the ERA reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Some legal scholars believe women are already legally protected from legal discrimination based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the amendment protects women from sex discrimination. However, others including the late Justice Antonin Scalia believe there isn’t any explicit guarantee of protection against discrimination in the Constitution.

Women endure many forms of discrimination ranging from civil rights to health care, but one of the most damaging is lack of access to capital.

And where to women receive most of their capital? The workplace.

The U.S Department of Labor recently published findings that would reinforce why ratification of the ERA is more important today than when it was originally passed by the Senate:

  1. Women Still Earn Less. In 2020, women’s annual earnings were 82.3% of men’s, although the gap is slowly improving. Women made 57 cents per dollar earned by men in 1973, when the Department of Labor started its research.
  2. There are too many ‘Equal Pay Days’ in a year. Based on 2020 earnings, a woman must work until March 24, 2021 to make the same amount of pay as a man did in 12 calendar months. But that’s not true for most women of color. A Black woman would have to work until August 3, while a Native American woman would have to work until September 8. Latinas would have to work until almost Halloween (Oct. 21).
  3. Advanced degrees widen the pay gap for women. Compared to white men with the same education, Black and Latina women with a bachelor’s degree have a 65% pay gap, while Black women with advanced degrees earn 70% of what white men with advanced degrees earn.
  4. Pandemic has set women back 30 years. A locked-down economy in 2020 hit women the hardest between layoffs and lack of childcare, forcing many mothers to leave the workforce. In fact, women’s labor participation rate fell to 55.8%—the same rate as April 1987. Women of color who worked in low-income jobs were greatly impacted. “When they come back to work, those women are not coming back at the same level,” Clarke said. “The only way this will change is if the ERA becomes law.”

The Road to Equal Rights

When the Senate passed the ERA in 1972, the legislation needed 38 states for ratification. Originally, it needed to be done within seven years, but advocates lobbied Congress to extend the deadline to 1982. Momentum began to fizzle. The second deadline passed three states short of the goal.

Recently, Nevada ratified the legislation in 2017 and Illinois followed suit in 2018. Virginia became the 38th state to ratify on January 27, 2020. However, a federal district judge has ruled that the deadline for ERA “expired long ago” and recent ratifications involving the three states arrived “too late to count.”

Despite the ruling, the movement continues to push forward. A bill to remove the ERA’s time limit, H.J. Res. 17, has passed through the House of Representatives by a 222-204 bipartisan vote.

Moving Forward: Actionable Items

Clarke said FEW members can help ratify the ERA with a little resolve on their own behalf.

“FEW members can support the passage of the ERA by having the complete knowledge of what was happening before the ERA came about,” she said.

For starters, members can review Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President L.B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 to amend the bill to now include federal government and civil services. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act helped necessitate the use of Affirmative Action policies in the hiring process, which increased the number of women and people of color in the workforce.

In addition, FEW chapters can lead monthly letter-writing campaigns at the local level of representation, followed by the annual Advocacy Day in early June. Members can begin by supporting H.J. Res. 17 in the House of Representatives and S.J. Res. 1 in the Senate, which would eliminate the ERA’s deadline.

Clarke said there is a percentage of women who are comfortable with the status quo, which ultimately could jeopardize ratification of the ERA. But FEW, bent on career advancement for its members, can help. “You might have to surround yourself with a team who will expose you,” said Clark who joined FEW three years ago and has been promoted twice recently. “You can find it if you want it.”

FEW Celebrates Women’s History Month: Janet Louise Yellen

FEW is celebrating the valiant women throughout history for Women’s History Month. FEW shined a spotlight on some historic figures of our great nation that fought for justice, equality and inclusion. Visitors throughout the month of March read about “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.” We end our series with Janet Yellen. 

Janet Louise Yellan (1946 – )

Source: https://home.treasury.gov/about/general-information/officials/janet-yellen

Secretary Yellen is the first woman to lead the U.S. Department of the Treasury in its 231-year history, and the first person to have served as Treasury Secretary, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Chair of the Federal Reserve. She has previously been confirmed by the Senate on four separate occasions. 

On January 26, 2021, Janet Yellen was sworn in as the 78th Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. An economist by training, she took office after almost fifty years in academia and public service. She is the first person in American history to have led the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department. 

Janet Louise Yellen was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 1946. Her mother, Anna Ruth, was an elementary school teacher while her father, Julius, worked as a family physician, treating patients out of the ground floor of the family’s brownstone. 

In 1967, Secretary Yellen graduated from Brown University and went on to earn her PhD at Yale. She was an assistant professor at Harvard until 1976 when she began working at the Federal Reserve Board. There, in the Fed’s cafeteria, she met fellow economist, George Akerlof. Janet and George would marry later that year. They would go on to have a son, Robert, now also an economics professor. 

In 1980, Secretary Yellen joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley, where she became the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics. She is Professor Emeritus at the university. 

Secretary Yellen’s scholarship has focused on a range of issues pertaining to labor and macroeconomics. Her work on “efficiency wages” with her husband George Akerlof studied why firms often choose to pay more than the minimum needed to hire employees. These businesses, they found, are often making a wise decision. Firms that offer better pay and working conditions tend to be rewarded with higher morale, reduced turnover and greater productivity. 

In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed then-Dr. Yellen to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Three years later, he named her Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. 

In 2004, Secretary Yellen began her third tenure at the Federal Reserve, this time as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. From that post, she spotted a worrying economic trend – a 

bubble in home values. When the housing bubble popped in 2008, Secretary Yellen helped manage the resulting financial crisis and recession. In 2010, President Barack Obama, appointed her Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, before nominating her to succeed Fed Chair Benjamin Bernanke as the nation’s top central banker. Secretary Yellen would serve as Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 until 2018. 

On December 1, 2020, then-President-elect Biden nominated Dr. Janet Yellen to the post of Treasury Secretary. “She has spent her career focused on unemployment and the dignity of work,” he said, “She understands what it means to people and their communities when they have good, decent jobs.” 

Prior to serving at the Treasury Department, Secretary Yellen was a Distinguished Fellow in Residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. During 2020-2021 she served as President of the American Economic Association. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations. She was also a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council. 

Secretary Yellen has served on the advisory boards of the Bloomberg New Economic Forum, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Fix the Debt Coalition (CRFB), and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth Steering Committee. She was elected to the Yale Corporation as an alumni fellow in 2000, serving until 2006. 

Dr. Yellen has received honorary doctorates from Bard College, Brown, the London School of Economics, NYU, the University of Baltimore, the University of Michigan, the University of Warwick and Yale from which she also received the Wilbur Cross Medal for dis

FEW Celebrates Women’s History Month: Kamala Harris

By Gregory Lewis McNamee

FEW is celebrating the valiant women throughout history for Women’s History Month. FEW will shine a spotlight on some historic figures of our great nation that fought for justice, equality and inclusion. Visit throughout the month of March to read about “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.” This week we feature Kamala Harris. 

Kamala Harris (1964 – )

Kamala Harris is the 49th vice president of the United States in the Democratic administration of Pres. Joe Biden. She was the first woman and the first African American to hold the post. She had previously served in the U.S. Senate (2017–21) and as attorney general of California (2011–17). 

Photo courtesy of brittanica.com

Her father, who was Jamaican, taught at Stanford University, and her mother, the daughter of an Indian diplomat, was a cancer researcher. Her younger sister, Maya, later became a public policy advocate. After studying political science and economics (B.A., 1986) at Howard University, Harris earned a law degree (1989) from Hastings College. 

She subsequently worked as a deputy district attorney (1990–98) in Oakland, earning a reputation for toughness as she prosecuted cases of gang violence, drug trafficking and sexual abuse. Harris rose through the ranks, becoming district attorney in 2004. In 2010 she was narrowly elected attorney general of California—winning by a margin of less than 1%—thus becoming the first female and the first African American to hold the post. After taking office the following year, she demonstrated political independence, rejecting, for example, pressure from the administration of Pres. Barack Obama for her to settle a nationwide lawsuit against mortgage lenders for unfair practices. Instead, she pressed California’s case and in 2012 won a judgment five times higher than that originally offered. Her refusal to defend Proposition 8 (2008), which banned same-sex marriage in the state, helped lead to it being overturned in 2013. Harris’s book, Smart on Crime (2009; cowritten with Joan O’C. Hamilton), was considered a model for dealing with the problem of criminal recidivism.

In 2012 Harris delivered a memorable address at the Democratic National Convention, raising her national profile. Two years later she married attorney FEW Weekly Web Update March 22, 2021 Douglas Emhoff. Widely considered a rising star within the party, she was recruited to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Barbara Boxer, who was retiring. In early 2015 Harris declared her candidacy, and on the campaign trail she called for immigration and criminal-justice reforms, increases to the minimum wage and protection of women’s reproductive rights. She easily won the 2016 election. 

When she took office in January 2017, Harris became the first Indian American in the Senate and just the second Black woman. She began serving on both the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Judiciary Committee, among other assignments. She became known for her prosecutorial style of questioning witnesses during hearings, which drew criticism—and occasional interruptions—from Republican senators. In June she drew particular attention for her questions to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was testifying before the intelligence committee on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; she had earlier called on him to resign. Harris’s memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, was published in January 2019. 

Shortly thereafter Harris announced that she was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. From the outset she was seen as one of the leading contenders, and she drew particular attention when, during a primary debate, she had a contentious exchange with fellow candidate Joe Biden over his opposition to school busing in the 1970s and 1980s, among other race-related topics. Although Harris’s support initially increased, by September 2019 her campaign was in serious trouble, and in December she dropped out of the race. She continued to maintain a high profile, notably becoming a leading advocate for social-justice reform following the May 2020 death of George Floyd, an African American who had been in police custody. Her efforts silenced some who had criticized her tenure as attorney general, alleging that she had failed to investigate charges of police misconduct, including questionable shootings. Others, however, felt that her embrace of reform was a political maneuver to capitalize on the increasing public popularity of social change. As racial injustice became a major issue in the United States, many Democrats called on Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee, to select an African American woman—a demographic that was seen as pivotal to his election chances—as his vice-presidential running mate. In August Biden chose Harris, and she thus was the first Black woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket. In November she became the first Black woman to be elected vice president of the United States. 

In the ensuing weeks Trump and various other Republicans challenged the election results, claiming voter fraud. Although a number of lawsuits were filed, no evidence was provided to support the allegations, and the vast majority of the cases FEW Weekly Web Update March 22, 2021 were dismissed. During this time Harris and Biden began the transition to a new administration, announcing an agenda and selecting staff. By early December all states had certified the election results, and the process then moved to Congress for final certification. Amid Trump’s repeated calls for Republicans to overturn the election, a group of congressional members, which notably included Senators Josh Hawley (Missouri) and Ted Cruz (Texas), announced that they would challenge the electors of various states. Shortly after the proceedings began on Jan. 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. It took several hours to secure the building, but Biden and Harris were eventually certified as the winners. She later denounced the siege—which many believed was incited by Trump—as “an assault on America’s democracy.” On January 18 she officially resigned from the Senate. Two days later, amid an incredible security presence, Harris was sworn in as vice president. 

About the Author: By Gregory Lewis McNamee, contributing editor, Encyclopedia Britannica; literary critic, Hollywood Reporter. Author of Moveable Feasts: The History, Science, and Lore of Food and more.