The European Union is reportedly considering introducing quotas for women on the boards of European public companies.
EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding was expected to set aggressive quotas and timetables on Monday that could result women occupying up to 60 percent of the seats on corporate boards, The New York Times reported.
Reding told the Times in an interview that while she personally did not "like quotas," "I like what the quotas do. Quotas open the way to equality and they break through the glass ceiling."
She said France and other countries with legally binding quotas had made the most progress in placing women in top business positions.
The Guardian, which also interviewed Reding, quoted her as saying that: "In countries without obligatory quotas, progress is slow."
She added that "Generally, progress is very slow," noting that at current rates it would take another 40 years for women to have equal representation on boards throughout Europe.
"I think we're slowly running out of patience everywhere in Europe," she reportedly said.
Reding warned companies in 2011 that she would introduce legislation if she found progress to be insufficient, the Guardian reported.
The European Round Table of Industrialists last Thursday disclosed records of female representation in "leadership positions" in 31 member companies.
They showed representation of women on boards ranging from 28.5 percent at Ecazcibasi Group, a Turkish industrial group, to 4 percent at Denmark's Moller-Maersk.
Reding last year had called on companies to take voluntary steps to increase the representation of women on boards to 30 percent by 2015 and to 40 percent by 2020, the Times reported.
They were supposed to achieve this by replacing departing male directors with women.