Women make up just 6 per cent of managing directors in the City of London, new research has shown on the eve of a landmark vote to enforce gender equality in the workplace across Europe.
The study of 1,200 employees by recruitment firm Astbury Marsden, which found commodity trading and corporate stockbroking the most male-dominated sectors of the financial services, comes before a European Commission (EC) vote on making it compulsory for companies to reserve 40 per cent of their seats for women.
The vote, delayed last month, takes place tomorrow and is being led by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.
Currently, less than 15 per cent of board positions in EU member states are held by women. The call for all 27 EU countries to up their numbers comes after France, Spain, Italy, Iceland and Belgium imposed their own quotas. Norway, which is not part of the EU, has had a 40 per cent ruling in place since 2003.
Britain, however, is among those countries opposed to the ruling. Last week, the House of Lords urged the EC to rethink, claiming it would "generate negative perceptions among women and business leaders and would not address the root causes of inequality".