The Harris County Robert W. Hainsworth Law Library recently added two copies of Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court to its collection. This book examines the history of women who have been considered as nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The book’s introduction includes the authors’ reasons for writing the book, provides numerous statistics, and explains important concepts regarding women in the legal profession, such as the “leaking pipeline” and the Mansfeld Rule. “The ‘leaking pipeline’ refers to the fact that as many women enter the legal profession as men, but do not achieve prominence and leadership roles at the same rate as men. The Mansfield Rule is a diversity practice, suggested for law firms and legal departments, requiring employers to consider diverse candidates for at least 30 percent of their open leadership positions.” (Quote appears in footnote 4, on page 455, of the linked document.)

Part I provides a brief overview of the women’s rights movement, including the issues of gender pay gaps and sexual harassment, among others. In this part, the authors also review the changing numbers of women in judicial and executive branch leadership roles; provide biographical information about the women who were considered for the U.S. Supreme Court; and described the shortlisting processes for U.S. Supreme Court Justices used by Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.

Part II offers an exploration of themes revealed by the authors’ research, including “tokenism, the many challenges faced by women during the nomination process, and the impact women have had as judges.” (Quote appears on page 456 of the linked document.) The authors described five challenges faced by the women nominees: (1) feminism/racism; (2) appearance/femininity/ respectability; (3) professional and intimate relationships; (4) motherhood and competing careers; and (5) age. In the last chapter of Part II, the authors present eight strategies for women to move from shortlisted to selected in any position. “Seven of the strategies relate to actions women can take individually, and the remaining one is a call for government-funded childcare to support women’s ability to participate in their professions on equal terms.” (Quote appears on page 456 of the linked document.)

Related CLE

The Harris County Robert W. Hainsworth Law Library hosted a 19th Amendment Symposium on August 18, 2020, titled, “Votes for Texas Women.” One of the guest speakers was Renee Knake Jefferson, a co-author of Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court. The recording of the symposium, which is available here, is accredited by the State Bar of Texas for 2.0 hours of CLE and 1.0 hour of ethics through September 22, 2021.