In the year 2021, Kamala Harris marked history when she was sworn in as the 49th US vice president, becoming the first woman, and the first African American, to occupy the prestigious role. However, female leadership in world power is still a relatively modern phenomenon.
This research will reveal the countries that have the highest percentage of female representation across business and government policy. We will analyse the number of women in leadership positions across a variety of industries and establishments; from politicians to CEOs and female-ran companies, to women in top managerial positions. By breaking down our findings, we will reveal which locations have the highest concentration of female leaders.
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By analysing gender equality data on the most developed countries in the world, we were able to rank the countries with the most female leaders.
We looked at a number of factors, although data was unavailable for some countries. The countries that did not have more than half of the data points available were subsequently removed from the list.
Data from the Global Gender Gap report looked at the number of female members of parliament chambers. Many countries use a bicameral political system, meaning that they have two chambers of parliament. They are comprised of a lower house where the government is formed, like the House of Commons, and an upper house that scrutinises and revises legislation, like the House of Lords.
Score: 8.08 out of 10
Austria has elected and appointed three female government leaders, with one female Federal Chancellor, which is comparable to the role of Prime Minister, as well as two Presidents of the Austrian National Council. Brigitte Bierlein served as president of the Constitutional Court before serving as chancellor of Austria until January 2020. Bierlein was the first woman to hold either office.
Austria’s share of board members of listed companies is 34.60% women. ‘Board members’ refers to all members of the highest decision-making body in the given company. There were also 40.40% of women in parliament seats in the lower or single house, with a higher percentage in upper chamber seats, with 41% of the Federal Council being women.
2/ United Kingdom
Score: 7.53 out of 10
The United Kingdom ranked in second place behind Austria, scoring 7.53 out of 10 for its female leaders. The UK has had three female prime ministers, including most recently politician Liz Truss, who stepped down from her role amid a government crisis, making her the shortest-serving prime minister in the history of the United Kingdom.
The UK has a higher percentage of women working in the lower house, the House of Commons, than in its upper chamber, the House of Lords (34.50%).
Score: 7.52 out of 10
Argentina scored third place in the ranking with 7.52 out of 10. Argentina has one of the highest shares of female membership in its lower house of parliament, The Chamber of Deputies (44.80%). Argentina also has had two female presidents, most recently, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who served for a term of eight years until December 2015 when she was succeeded by Mauricio Macri.
Countries with the most female leaders in the world
Number of Female Heads of State & Government Leaders
Female Membership of Lower or Single House %
Female Membership of Upper Chamber %
Share of Women’s Membership in Boards %
Firms with Female Majority Ownership %
Firms with Female Top Managers %
Number of female heads of state & government leaders
Finland has 4 female elected leaders
Finland has appointed or elected the most female heads of state and government in the world, having had three female prime ministers and one female president. The country’s current female prime minister, Sanna Marin, is a Finnish politician and has served the country since 2019. Marin was praised for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and led her country to join Nato with overwhelming support.
Women in Parliament
Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies has equal female and male members
Mexico has the highest percentage of women working in parliament with lower or single house seats, with half of its members being female at 50% in 2022. According to the Gender Quotas Database, in June 2021, Mexico implemented its constitutional mandate for “gender parity in everything” for the first time. In 2018, women won half the seats in Mexico’s Congress.
Women working for the Senate
Australia has 7% more women working for the Senate than men
Australia has the most women working in the upper house of parliament, as of data from February 2023. The Senate, which consists of 76 members, has a share of 56.60% female members. According to the Parliament of Australia, the Australian Greens have had female representation in the Senate since July 1990. Of a total of 25 Green senators, 16 have been women.
Iceland has the most female directors in the world
Iceland has the highest share of board members of listed companies that are women, at 47.10% in 2022. As of February 2023. According to Statistics Iceland’s Board of Directors, in 2021, the proportion of women on boards of 4 members or more, within companies with 50 employees or more, was 41.5% for public limited companies and 38.3% for private limited companies.
Kazakhstan has the most female CEOs in the world
Kazakhstan has the highest percentage of firms with female majority membership, at 23.80% in 2022. The share of women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises reached 43.3% in 2021, increasing significantly by 26% since 2010, according to the Deputy Minister of National Economy, Bauyrzhan Omarbekov.
Women in top management positions
One-third of top managers in Latvia are women
Latvia recorded the highest percentage of firms with women in top management positions, at 32.60% in 2022. The Women’s UN Report Network reported that in 2018, out of 54,540 Latvians classified as managers, 28,778 were women. In 2006, almost 43% of managers were female, which was the highest proportion in the EU.
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To create a list of countries to study we looked at countries that are considered to be of “very high human development” according to the UN Human Development Index. Any countries that did not have more than half of the data factors available were removed. Ukraine and Russia were removed from the seed list due to ongoing conflict.
The Number of Female Heads of State & Government was taken from Wikipedia. This data is correct as of 28/04/23.
The Percentage of Women in Parliament in both the upper chamber and lower or single house was taken from IPU Parline’s Monthly ranking of women in national parliaments for the month of February 2023.
The Share of Women’s Membership in Boards was taken from the Global Gender Gap Report 2022. This data was only available for OECD member countries. The percentage of Firms with Female Majority Ownership and Firms with Female Top Managers for every country was also taken from this report.
All the countries were ranked by their score for every factor to get a normalised score out of ten.