But the focus on Yellen's gender is part of a bigger issue. Women are greatly outnumbered by men in the field of economics.
Only about a third of new economics Ph.Ds are women, according to the American Economic Association, but the disparity starts even earlier, in undergraduate education. In the top 100 universities, there are 2.5 male economics majors per female econ major, notes Claudia Goldin, Harvard economist and president of the American Economic Association.
"If women are poorly represented in economics in the labor market it is largely because they do not major in the field," she said. "You can't easily make a Shakespeare expert or a gene splicer into an economist."
But if Janet Yellen becomes the most powerful central banker in the world, perhaps more young women will decide to pursue a career in economics?
Earlier this year, I asked Yellen about why more women aren't rising in the field, to which she replied:
"At the highest levels of central banking, there are very few women," she said. "But I am pleased that the representation of women is increasing a lot at other levels... I really think this is something that's going to increase over time, and it's time for that to happen."