In the 1950s, the legal profession was still pretty much a man's world, and when Sandra Day O'Connor applied for a job at law firms following her graduation from Stanford Law School in 1952, the only position offered was secretarial. As a result, she ended up pursuing her legal career mostly in the public sector, beginning with a stint as a deputy county attorney. In 1978, she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals, and three years later, she became the first woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court. Despite O'Connor's fundamental conservatism, her position in many cases before the Court is not easily predicted, and today she is considered the "swing vote" on the Court's close decisions.
This likeness ran on the cover of Time on July 20, 1981, shortly after President Ronald Reagan announced O'Connor's Supreme Court nomination. In the accompanying article, the magazine reported that among those most pleased with the choice were feminists, who regarded it as a "major victory for women's rights."