Women are still the victims of sex discrimination in terms of their ability to take up senior roles in the business world.
This is according to the chair of the Association of Executive Recruiters, who made his comments in response to new research from the Government Equality Office (GEO).
Derek Smart suggested that there are "residual reluctant attitudes" towards female candidates.
He added: "Those in the front line of executive recruitment agree that women are too often poorly represented on private sector company boards."
Female employees fare considerably better in public and third-sector organisations, he noted.
Mr Smart went on to suggest that businesses that overlook opportunities to employ women at board and chief executive level are missing out on valuable talent.
His comments were made after the GEO - which was created in October 2007 - revealed that board room cultures are often inhospitable to women and female candidates can be put off applying for top-level roles because of the perception of an "old boys' network".