Gender equality in the top positions among the UK’s biggest companies appears to be improving following a fall in the number of male-only boards at FTSE 100 firms.

The Cranfield School of Management has reported that, since the publication of its Female FTSE report in March this year, the number of boards of FTSE 100 companies with an exclusively male membership has fallen from 11 to nine.

At the same time, the number of female-held FTSE 100 directorships has risen to 16 per cent from 15.6 per cent.

“It is really encouraging to see a continuing fall in the number of all-male boards and so soon after publishing last month’s report,” said deputy director of the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders Dr Ruth Sealy.

“I am also aware of one or two of the nine remaining all-male FTSE 100 boards who are working towards introducing their first female director, which is great news.”

There are now 153 women holding 176 FTSE 100 board seats, out of a total of 1,098 available board positions, compared to March’s figures of 141 women holding 163 FTSE 100 board seats, out of 1,086 positions.

A number of FTSE 100 companies now have a considerable proportion of their board positions held by women, said Dr Sealy.

“For example, National Grid has announced that its fourth female board member, Nora Mead Brownell, will take up a non-executive director position from June 1st, joining Linda Adamany, the Rt Hon Ruth Kelly and Maria Richter.

“With this appointment National Grid will join the illustrious ranks of those companies with over 30 per cent women on board.”

Last year’s Davies Review recommended a minimum target of 25 per cent female representation on the boards of FTSE 100 companies by 2015.

Cranfield predicts that this target will be exceeded, with women accounting for 26.7 per cent of directors by 2015 and 36.9 per cent by 2020.