Two women have broken several glass ceilings on Thursday in the printing press from which most of the United States banknotes come out. Janet Yellen has become the first woman to sign legal tender as Secretary of the Treasury. The chief of the Mohegan tribe, Marilynn Malerba, is the first Native American to do so, in this case with the position of United States Treasurer. Together they leave for history the first banknotes signed by two women.
Yellen and Malerba presented the new $1 and $5 bills this Thursday at the Treasury’s Office of Engraving and Printing (the mint) in Fort Worth (Texas). More than half of the paper money issued by the United States is printed in Fort Worth. The banknotes that leave from there are marked FW with small letters on the front. The first notes bearing Yellen and Malerba’s signatures will be delivered to the Federal Reserve later this month and will enter circulation next year.
“Two women on one ticket for the first time is really transcendental,” Malerba said during the presentation ceremony. Yellen joked with the calligraphy: “It is customary for Treasury Secretaries to provide their signature to appear on our country’s currency. You might think it is a simple process. But the Founding Fathers failed to take into account what seems to be a common attribute of Treasury secretaries: terrible handwriting. My friend Tim Geithner had to change his signature to make it legible. In a 2012 interview, he described the change as being made not for “fancy” but simply for “clarity.” President Obama joked during Jack Lew’s appointment as Secretary that he should try to make ‘at least one legible handwriting’ in his signature. The good news is that President Biden did not make a similar request of me when he appointed me. But I admit it: I had a good time practicing my signature.
It has taken the Treasury secretary almost two years since she took office to stamp her signature on new bills. The law requires that the treasurer or treasurer also appear and that position was vacant for many months until the president of the United States, Joe Biden, proposed last June to Marilynn Malerba to hand over the keys to Fort Knox, the gigantic warehouse where the United States The United States keeps most of its gold reserves.
Both Yellen and Malerba have been pioneers in occupying positions of power and responsibility where there had been no women before. Yellen has recalled that when she received her Ph.D. in economics from Yale in 1971 she was the only woman in her class, among a couple dozen men. She was the first female president of the Federal Reserve and is the first secretary of the Treasury. Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba was the first female chief of the Mohegan tribe in modern history and also the first Native American descendant to be appointed US Treasurer.
The presence of the signature of two women for the first time on a US bill “is a reminder of the contributions of women who have worked in the Treasury and in the economics profession,” said Yellen, who recalled during her speech that a design of a new $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist heroine who escaped from slavery and helped many others to do so. She will be the first black person to look at a US bill and the first woman in more than a century. The project, which started in 2016 at the end of Barack Obama’s term, hibernated with Donald Trump, a devotee of slave-owning president Andrew Jackson, and resumed with Biden, but there is still time for them to reach the pockets of Americans: it will be ” in the coming years,” according to Yellen. Actually, they are planned for 2030, given the complexity of the process to prevent counterfeiting. Before there will be new bills of 10 dollars (2026) and 50 dollars (2028), while those of 5 dollars will have to wait until 2032 and those of 100, to 2034, according to the plan of the mint.
The Secretary of the Treasury has reviewed the women who have appeared on coins and dollar bills and those who have held positions of responsibility in the Treasury. “Today, women make up about 62% of the Treasury workforce and hold positions of power throughout our Department, from public affairs to national finance to the office of chief of staff. We have made progress in providing greater economic opportunities for women at Treasury and in the economics profession. But we know that much remains to be done. I hope that today reminds us of the path we have traveled in terms of equity and inclusion. And I hope it motivates us to keep moving forward ”, she pointed out.
When asked how she felt when she saw her signature on the new bills, she replied: “Excited. honored. Excited”.
The issuance of the first signed notes is a special moment for any Treasury secretary. Yellen’s predecessor Steve Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, were mocked and memed for their clothing and attitude during the event, which led many to compare them to movie villains.
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