Who Is She?
Yellen's served as vice chair of the Fed since 2010, when she was easily confirmed by voice vote in the Senate. A native of Brooklyn, she has also served as the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton, and is professor emerita at the U.C. Berkeley's Haas School of Business. She's married to George Akerlof, a Nobel prize-winning economist who is also a professor emeritus at Berkeley. Yellen also collects stamps, enjoys tennis and hiking, and packs suitcases full of economics books to read on vacation. Seriously.
As the New York Times notes, Yellen is expected to win bipartisan support in the Senate, though some Republicans, such as Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, are wary of her nomination because of "her dovish views on monetary policy." (More on that below.) Both she and current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke have engineered our current expansionary monetary policy — i.e., the stimulus that was re-upped last month — though as chairman she will be expected to wind down that program so that the economy can walk on its own legs, so to speak.
What Does "Dovish" Mean?
Yellen and Bernanke are often referred to as "doves" or "dovish" in their policy approaches. In Fed-speak, that basically means that, when considering how to balance the Fed's dual mandate of full employment and low inflation levels, Yellen and her ilk tend to focus more on jobs. Hawks, on the other hand, focus more on inflation. Since the Fed cannot equally balance both needs — if it stimulates the economy by printing money and creating jobs, it risks raising inflation — they have to choose sides. The doves are generally willing to risk small raises in inflation if it lowers unemployment, while the hawks typically want to keep price levels stable with higher interest rates.
About Her "Chairman" Title
That's not a typo. As Roose points out, the title is clearly spelled out in the Federal Reserve Act, gender-appropriate awkwardness notwithstanding. That doesn't mean, of course, that things won't change. But for now, we'll stick to just "chair" in the future.