WOMEN are woefully under-represented in boardrooms and Parliament, says a report.
And the research by the Equal Opportunities Commission says there are signs that improvements have started to reverse.
It found that women make up just 10% of directors in the UK's top 100 companies, and 20% of MPs.
The commission estimated that 6,000 women were "missing" from top positions in industry and public life.
The pace of change at the top in many areas of British life remains "painfully slow" and in some cases has gone into reverse, despite a huge increase in the numbers of women in work.
Ethnic minority women are especially under-represented, accounting for just 0.4% of directors in the top 100 firms and 0.3% of Parliamentarians - even though they make up 5.2% of the population.
Even in areas of above-average black and Asian populations, two-thirds of employers did not have an ethnic minority woman in a senior job.
The EOC said that to break the infamous "glass ceiling" holding back women, thousands more female judges, senior police officers, council leaders, MPs, members of the House of Lords and company directors should be appointed.