A Review of Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court[1]

By Mais Moran

Shortlisted is an extremely powerful narrative of the exemplary women who made history with little-to-no lasting recognition. Specifically, this book examines the women who were considered for a vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States, but who were overlooked or dismissed due to gender biases. For instance: Florence Allen was the first woman shortlisted in 1924, having successfully achieved many firsts in her lifetime, but she was denied the nomination simply because of her sex.

Since 1924, seven additional women have been shortlisted despite multiple vacancies in the Supreme Court. That glass ceiling did not shatter until 1981, more than fifty years later, with the nomination and confirmation of Sandra Day O’Connor. But what is more astonishing, is how many barriers these women shattered and how very little is mentioned of them in our history books. Fortunately, the authors detail the personal and professional achievements of the women who were shortlisted.

Shortlist touches on the implications of tokenism, work-life balance, motherhood, double blinds, intersectionality between feminism and racism, appearance, relationships (both professional and personal), media biases, and ageism–all of which continue to affect women in the legal profession. The book also looks at the history of firsts set by these women and their long-lasting effects on gender issues like equal pay, reproductive rights, and professional opportunities.

The book from start to finish is enlightening and informative. I enjoyed reading about these amazing women who broke down barriers. It was validating to see how my experiences overlapped with theirs. My only complaint is that it is infuriating to learn about how the common political use of shortlisting women can actually perpetuate gender inequality. Other than that, I strongly recommend that all women consider picking up this book and learning about the trailblazers who paved the way for so many of us today.

Let me know what you think!

[1] Written by Renee Knake Jefferson and Hannah Brenner Johnson. To purchase your own copy of Shortlisted, go to https://bit.ly/3beX9iD and enter code SHORTLISTED30 to save 30%.