The European Commission wants women to have at least 40% representation on the boards of listed companies, but the plan has reportedly run into opposition from some EU member states.
A draft commission directive seen Wednesday envisages that women, long a rarity at the corporate high table and outnumbered there roughly seven to one by men according to the EU, should play a much bigger role.
European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding challenged listed company heads last year to commit to a program by March 2012 under which women would have 30% of board seats by 2015 and 40% by 2020.
The draft noted that the current "under-utilization of highly qualified women's skills constitutes for the EU a loss of economic growth potential."
"The business case for more gender diversity on boards is widely recognized among stakeholders," it added.
A Financial Times report Wednesday said Great Britain opposes the plan, arguing that such issues are best left to national governments.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012