Female workers will only be appointed to senior positions by a number of business leaders "in times of crisis and poor performance", discriminating them and ultimately making women more likely to fail than men.
Research commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found that difficult jobs - with "make or break" outcomes - considered vital for career development are more likely to be given to women rather than men.
Moreover, the research revealed that many female business leaders are at greater risk of failing than their male counterparts because they are more likely to be appointed during crisis situations
Dianah Worman, CIPD diversity adviser, says: "The growth in the number of successful small businesses owned by women goes someway to indicate their business and leadership capabilities and highlights the talent other large organisations are missing.
"It is in the best interests of business to take action to enable achievement rather than sitting back and hoping for the best - organisations need to open their doors to the leadership capabilities of both halves of the population, regardless of the performance of the organisation."