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Janet Yellen Says Gender Inequality Is Impeding Economic Growth

The first female Federal Reserve Chairwoman forcefully emphasized the necessity of closing the gender wage gap and inequities in workforce opportunities, arguing that economic growth depended on it.

Speaking at Brown University’s “125 Years of Women at Brown Conference,” a celebration of the decision to admit women into the Ivy League university, Janet Yellen, a Brown alumna, used anecdotes from her own family to trace female economic progress over the past century.

She highlighted the progress that had been made, saying female participation was crucial to the growth and prosperity of the 20th century, but noted it hasn’t been sufficient.

“Despite this progress, evidence suggests that many women remain unable to achieve their goals,” Yellen said.

Women, she said, still face an opportunity gap, underrepresented in many industries and often unable to fulfill their potential due to adequate workplace policies.

“If these obstacles persist, we will squander the potential of many of our citizens and incur a substantial loss to the productive capacity of our economy at a time when the aging of the population and weak productivity growth are already weighing on economic growth,” Yellen said.

Yellen titled her speech “So We All Can Succeed,” which she explained was inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s remarks that “we cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”

Yellen’s full remarks can be found here.