According to Pew Research Center reports, women heads of state or government are rare, though their numbers have increased in modern times. But usually, women leaders do not rule the country for a long time either.
Currently there are 18 female world leaders, out of which 12 are heads of the government and 11 are elected as female heads of the state, according to United Nations data. Half of these women leaders are the first women to hold their country's highest office.
The following graphs were accessed from the official website of Pew Research:
Number of female leaders has more than doubled since 2005. According to a study by World Economic Forum 63 out of 142 nations have had a female leader who has led the government or the state at some point in the 50 years till 2014. But in nearly two-thirds of these nations a woman was in power for less than four of the 50 years, which includes the 11 countries which have been led a woman for less than a year.
India is the only country in the world which was led by a woman for the longest period, with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Pratibha Patil. They both collectively served the country for a good 21 years in the past 50 years.
Bangladesh and Ireland followed India with 21 years of female leadership. Countries with the shortest duration of female leadership are Austria, Ecuador and Madagascar where the female leader led for just two days. Pew Research report say that Austria's female leader served an interim period but in Ecuador and Madagaskar, female leaders were dominated by male politicians and were forced out of their position.
Sweden has never had a female head who led the government. According to the Pew Research report, Iceland had a female president or a prime minister during 20 of the past 50 years which is the fourth most in the world followed by Finland and Norway with 12 and 11 years respectively.
The following graph shows that the public generally trusts women more than men, in the United States. Except for risk-taking and deal-making, women seem to posess all other qualities essential to make good political and business leaders, more than men do.
Mexico has also never seen a women as chief executive. The first ever female prime minister of Canada served for just four months.
Overall, there is a positive trend in female leadership around the world. Women also seem to make better leaders overall. But there is a glass ceiling, and traditional attitudes persist in some societies.