Women still hold only 8.4% of board positions and 8% of key executive roles, according to a report by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA).
The gender make-up of these positions has barely changed over the last few years, the report states.
There are just six female CEOs and five female chairs amongst the top 200 Australian companies, and the proportion of companies with no women on the board has actually increased to 54% this year from 51% in 2008.
Australia has the lowest percentages of women in the most senior positions when compared to New Zealand, UK, Canada, US and South Africa, EOWA said.
Only one company, Pacific Brands (ASX:PBG) has achieved near gender parity amongst the top jobs, with 50% female board directors and nearly 43% female executive personnel. The company is led by CEO Sue Morphet.
“Clearly nothing significant has occurred in Australian business culture to address the systemic inequity that continues to prevent talented and capable women from contributing at this high level,” EOWA acting director Mairi Steele said.
“The number of women taking on board positions this year alone proves that there is no shortage of talent. But there is still a long way to go before there is anything resembling equality.”
The telecom, pharmaceuticals and retail industries had the highest percentage of women executive and key management personnel, while the automotive and components and consumer durables industries were the lowest ranked.
The census was conducted in partnership with ANZ (ASX:ANZ), Macquarie University and US research firm Catalyst.