Women are still vastly under-represented on boards with data from the NZX showing the ratio of male to female directors has not changed in the last year.

For the companies that filed information in the 2016 calendar year, 83 per cent of directors were male and 17 per cent were female - identical to the ratio from the previous year, despite efforts to get more women on boards.

Of the companies that filed information in the December quarter, the proportion of male directors rose to 87 per cent, with female director numbers falling to 13 per cent.

Linda Noble, chief executive for Governance New Zealand and Women on Boards, said while publishing the data was a good move, the results were disappointing.


"New Zealand has a wealth of outstanding potential board member candidates, many of whom are Women on Boards members," Noble said.

"Unfortunately there is still a lack of awareness or acceptance by some of the direct link that gender diversity has to improvements in the performance of an organisation."

Noble said there were a number of reasons women were not better represented on boards in New Zealand, one being the method of recruitment and the selection process, which she said needed improvement.

Tara Lorigan, co-founder and chief executive of Co.OfWomen said she could see things changing - but at a slow pace.

"I'm not surprised by the results but I think change is definitely afoot - it's just going to take time," Lorigan said.

"There's a range of things including the tenure on these boards and that old boys network - many of those people are still in these positions and hiring in their own image and that's not going to change in the short term," she said.

"Things are being done but I don't think we're going to see any swift change."

Despite this, Lorigan said more women were opting to start their own companies rather than going into the boardroom, which she said was a positive shift.