The number of female directors of UK businesses has grown by more than 16 per cent since 2007, according to new research from Experian's BusinessIQ analysis.
The study of more than 2.7 million companies in the UK shows that the number of women in director roles has grown from 4.3 million in 2007 to five million in 2012.
Smaller firms with between three and 10 employees are still most likely to have a female director, according to the research, but the gap is narrowing among larger firms with more than 250 employees. In 2007, only one third of larger businesses had a female director, while in 2012 the figure grew to 40 per cent.
Women in director roles are more frequently seen in start-up businesses, found Experian, whose research claims that a third of the 1.4 million businesses to have opened their doors since 2007 have one or more female directors.
Despite the progression of women to director roles, Experian also found that women still dominate the professions of hairdressing, primary education and social work.
Between 2007 and 2012, there was a fall in the number of all-female boards in what Experian describes as male-dominated industries such as plumbing and software publishing.
Max Firth, UK managing director for Experian's Business Information Services division said that despite progression made by women over the last five years, the picture is still much the same.
He said: "While there are undoubtedly many women who are breaking new ground and overcoming stereotypes, our data shows that among the total population of UK companies, the industries with most female directors are pretty much the same as before the recession.
"Smaller companies are clearly the driving force for female directors, but our research shows that larger companies' efforts to increase the number of female directors has made a significant difference over the past five years."
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