In Transformers: the movie we know of course that the Matrix of leadership was given to Ultra Magnus, later Hot Rod receives it and destroys Unicron. But why couldn't someone like Arcee become leader and get the Matrix. Are females allowed to be leader or even have the Matrix and be the guardian of it?
The concept of the Matrix originates from the brain of Marvel Comics writer Bob Budiansky and is a result of the "no girls"/"no gender" policy enforced by Hasbro regarding their then-new robot brand. Because there were no female robots/the robots had no gender, Budiansky came up with an asexual method of reproduction in the form of the Creation Matrix, a "Primal Program" housed within the Autobot leader that could bring new Transformers to life, which would also prove a helpful plot device when he was required to introduce new characters to the series
As the concept of the Matrix predates female Autobots, it was never shown in the hands of a female Autobot in the comics. In the cartoons since, there has never been a female holder of the Matrix of Leadership -- but there is no indication that this is due to any sort of a rule; the Matrix has been passed to the next most qualified (present) individual in each case that it has come up -- and in almost every situation, there were no female Autobots there to be considered!
Perhaps the best support for female Autobots being able to assume the
Mantle Matrix of Leadership is the fact that there have, through history, been several female Autobot resistance leaders. Elita One and Beta were the highest ranking Autobots on Cybertron in their time (Elita because Prime was gone, Beta because she was one of the first Transformers to rebel against the Quintessons). The Autobots are clearly an egalitarian society suffering from a severe shortage of females -- but as they don't sexually reproduce, they probably never saw a need to have more made.
Final thoughts: in Prime's final words in the movie, the Matrix is destined to fall in the hands of an Autobot who would use its powers to light their darkest hour. He didn't designate a gender.