Council leaders have admitted that the move towards gender balance in local government should be made at a ‘faster pace’.
A report by the IPPR think-tank found only 4% of the leadership of combined authorities are women and all directly-elected mayors are men.
The think-tank also discovered that of the 160 women who are currently cabinet members in councils, the words health, children, community, social care and wellbeing are more likely to feature than business, procurement, jobs, regeneration and finance.
To achieve equal numbers of male and female councillors, the IPPR calculated that 3,028 more women will need to be successfully elected - an increase of more than 50%.
Vice-chair of the Local Government Association, Cllr Marianne Overton, said: ‘This report rightly highlights that progress in achieving gender balance in local government should be made at a faster pace.
‘All parts of local government must be reflective of the communities they represent and be at the forefront of driving the level of change required.’
Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and leader of Bradford City Council, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, added: ‘Local authorities should reflect the diversity of the communities we serve and I absolutely support the call for greater commitments to address the depressingly small number of senior female leaders in our sector.
‘I am proud to be a female council leader – supported by a female chief executive, Kersten England – and to have recently been appointed the only woman in the country to lead a combined authority.
‘It cannot be right though in 2017, when more women are being elected to parliament, that my situation is still the exception and not the norm in local government.’