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September 15, 2013 4:57 PM Summers is out …

By Kathleen Geier

And there was jubilation throughout the land! Well, in my apartment, anyway. Story here.

I did not see this coming. I assumed that Larry, and the White House, would hold on until the bitter end and force a floor vote, even though it was clear that opposition to the nomination was growing.

As Scott Lemieux says, credit where credit is due — Larry Summers deserves our thanks. Bowing out had to have been personally painful to him, but it will spare the White House, and the country, much grief. Big ups, as well, to the three Democratic senators, all of them members of the banking committee, who went on record in recent days to say they would oppose Summers: Jon Tester, Jeff Merkley, and Sherrod Brown. Elizabeth Warren was also reportedly about to announce her opposition.

I really, really hope this means that Barack Obama will, without further ado, announce the nomination of Janet Yellen for the post. Summers was clearly his favorite, but to choose anyone else at this point would look churlish. But since Barack Obama has never shown a penchant for that sort of Nixonian vindictiveness, we don’t have any reason to believe he’ll do that.

Yellen’s nomination looks like an even better idea in light of this recent article about the depressing status of women within the economics profession. As ThinkProgress’s Bryce Covert reports, women are earning only about a third of econ Ph.D.’s these days, which is a lower percentage than in 1997, when data on the subject was first collected. And at each step up the ladder in the economic profession, there are fewer women:

In 2012 they made up 28 percent of assistant professors, 22 of associate professors with tenure, and less than 12 percent of full professors.

Discrimination appears to explain a significant chunk of their stalled progress. For example, there’s this evidence:

a study found that even when controlling for such factors, as well as education and ability, there is still a 16 point percentage gap in how likely a woman is to be promoted to a full professor of economics versus a man, “a much larger gap than in other disciplines,” the report notes.

Members of the Fed are mostly drawn from the pool of distinguished economists, so given women’s agonizingly slow progress within the econ, it may be a long time before another woman is as well-positioned as Yellen to break the Fed’s glass ceiling. There’s no question that Yellen is eminently qualified. She’s vice chair of the Fed right now — next in line for the job. According to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis, Yellen is the most accurate forecaster currently on the Fed. Many economists have endorsed her nomination. Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, who has worked closely with both Yellen and Summers, supports her as well. I hope and expect we will hear her nomination announced shortly.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

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