I feel a bit sorry for Jeremy Corbyn after the flak he's taken over failing to appoint women to shadow any of the 'Great Offices of State'. I'm sure he's serious about achieving gender balance at the top of politics, but if you look at the appointments individually, they all make perfect sense.
John McDonnell was the right choice as Shadow Chancellor, because the most common faultline in divided party leaderships is between the leader and the Chancellor/Shadow Chancellor. In Chris Mullin's A Very British Coup, the nemesis of the left-wing Labour PM Harry Perkins is the moderate he appoints as Chancellor to reassure the City. OK, that's fiction, but it's not hard to think of real world examples - Thatcher/Howe, Thatcher/Lawson, Blair/Brown. It's probably better for the leader to avoid that problem by appointing a friend and ideological fellow traveller, and there is simply no female MP who fits that bill for Jeremy Corbyn - with the sole exception of Diane Abbott, who even her most fervent admirers would probably concede is unsuited to the role.
Just about the only thing Harriet Harman did as interim leader that could be described as a stroke of genius was to appoint Hilary Benn as Shadow Foreign Secretary. He's by far Labour's best Foreign Secretary or Shadow Foreign Secretary since Robin Cook (although admittedly the competition isn't exactly stiff). He's also a unifying figure, liked and respected across different wings of the party - a moderate, but one who proudly voted for his dad Tony Benn in the leadership and deputy leadership contests of the 1980s. If he was willing to stay on in the role, surely Corbyn had no choice but to bite his hand off?
That only leaves Shadow Home Secretary, which by a process of elimination had to go to a defeated leadership candidate who was willing to serve. It's scarcely Corbyn's fault that Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall were both refuseniks, making the appointment of Andy Burnham inevitable.
There's been a lot of talk of 'tokenism' in relation to the female appointments Corbyn has made to the lower ranks of the Shadow Cabinet, but surely the true tokenism would have been to appoint the wrong person to one of the top jobs simply because she is a woman. If all-female appointments had been made on merit to the top three posts, isn't that something we would celebrate, rather than fret about?