By Danielle Paquette

Economist Heidi Hartmann, founder of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said that’s one reason U.S. women have fallen behind their counterparts across the world. European and Asian nations generally offer more paid leave and subsidized child care.

“The extent to which we don’t talk about gender is the extent to which we don’t have a complete picture of how the economy works,” Hartmann said.

She added that Yellen’s comments make sense for her position. “When you consider the job of the Fed is economic growth, then it’s perfectly logical to be speaking about unemployed people,” Hartmann said. “Women’s employment is low, compared to similar women in other countries.”

In 1990, she noted, the United States boasted the sixth-highest female labor participation rate among 22 OECD member countries, trailing only Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Canada. By 2010, the country slid to 17th. Britain, Spain and Germany, for example, jumped ahead after expanding support for new parents, including subsidized child care and paid family leave.

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