The battle to succeed outgoing AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland has suddenly become a bidding war over arare commodity in labor leadership: women. Kirkland's hand-picked candidate, Thomas Donahue, today added trade unionist Barbara Easterling to his slate, saying it was about time that women joined top ranks of the nation's largest labor federation. But TIME reporter Joseph Szczesny notes that Donahue's just trying to keep up with the competition. His popular opponent, John Sweeney, has already promised a woman the first vice president slot if he wins the first contested election since the AFL and CIO merged in 1955. Besides, Szczesny reports, Kirkland's own failure to promote women to top spots contributed to the furor that drove him out this month.