Women becoming actively involved in politics is a relatively new development when compared to how long men have been ruling around the world. Test your knowledge of the state of women in politics and the female pioneers at the polls with this quiz.
On July 20, 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became prime minister of Sri Lanka, making her the country’s and the world’s first woman ever to hold that highest seat in the land. Nicknamed the “weeping widow,” Bandaranaike took over the role from her husband who was assassinated by a Buddhist monk.
The daughter of an Ohio con man, Victoria Woodhull made a name for herself professionally by starting Wall Street’s first female-run brokerage. In 1871, she announced her plans to run for president the following year, although it would be another 49 years before women could legally vote in the United States.
In 1950, a 24-year-old Margaret Thatcher became the youngest woman in Great Britain’s history to run for a parliamentary seat. The future "Iron Lady" lost the election, but her campaigning helped cement her role in the Conservative Party, and she won a seat in parliament in 1959.
Rankin was among a group of representatives who voted against U.S. involvement in World War I, but when World War II came around, the pacifist stood alone in voting against the U.S. declaring war.
In 1968, under the slogan "unbought and unbossed," Chisholm ran for U.S. Congress in a newly apportioned congressional district in Brooklyn, New York. Four years earlier, she had won a seat in the New York state legislature.
American women couldn't vote until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. The ladies in New Zealand had been heading to the polls since 1893, making them the first women in the world able to do so.
In 1887, Kansas granted women the right to vote in municipal races, and as a joke, a group of men in the Quaker town of Argonia decided to nominate Susanna Madora Salter for mayor representing the Prohibition Party. Turned out the joke was on them because Salter won and served out her term.
Women are still far behind men in politics around the world. In the 20th century, only 28 women were elected as heads of state.
Nellie Tayloe Ross was elected governor of Wyoming in 1924, filling the seat left by her deceased husband. In 1933 Ross was named director of the U.S. Mint.
Ferraro wrote the letter to The New York Times four years after being tapped by the Democratic Party to run for vice president alongside Walter Mondale. Fighting an uphill battle against popular incumbent President Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the Mondale-Ferraro team received intensive media buzz, but the novelty of a potential female vice president wasn’t enough to carry the Democrats to election victory by a long shot.
Although studies have repeatedly found women to rank high -- if not higher than men -- on leadership qualities, the Pew Center poll found that only 6 percent of Americans think women make better political leaders as men. Twenty-one percent opted for male leaders, and the majority said that both genders were equally capable of political leadership.
The situation for women in politics is gradually improving around the globe. In 2012, UN Women announced that 17 countries had female heads of state.
After being exiled from Chile by Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship, Bachelet later returned, got involved with the Socialist Party and was voted into office in 2006. Deftly steering the nation through the international financial recession in 2008, Bachelet earned kudos for her government’s investment in improving early childhood education and assistance to low income families .
Scandinavia has become known for its gender parity. In 1995, for instance, Sweden enacted the world's first gender-equal cabinet.
Not only did Ellen Johnson Sirleaf make African history when she was elected president of Liberia, the Harvard-educated trailblazer also received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
Although voters may perceive male and female candidates differently, assigning gendered stereotypes to each, it might not make a major difference at the polls. Statistically, women have just as strong of a chance of winning as men.
When Newsweek tallied up 53 politician sex scandals that took place between 1976 and 2009, Idaho Rep. Helen Chenoweth was the only woman make the list. She admitted to having an eight-year affair with a married man.
Research has found that women are the ultimate multitaskers in government. In Congress, female legislators sponsor an average three more bills per session, and cosponsor an average 26 more than male elected officials.
According to a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Political Science, women handily beat out the men, delivering an average $49 million more per year to their respective districts, even after controlling for party affiliation, geography and other influential variables.
As of July 2012, women held only 90 slots in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, or just 16.8 percent of the total. The gender gap is slightly narrower on a state level, with women comprising 23.7 percent of the state congressional positions.