(Bloomberg) -- The European Central Bank’s attempts to redress gender imbalance among its staff appear to be making some headway.

Since the Executive Board committed to changing its diversity policy in 2010, women are now almost as likely to be promoted to higher-paying positions as men, according to a working paper published Tuesday. Yet they apply less frequently.

The Frankfurt-based ECB set targets to increase the number of females in managerial positions in 2013, but still can’t shake off the image of an organization that is run mostly by men. Its politically appointed Governing Council, which brings together governors of 19 national central banks and the six-person Executive Board, currently features only one woman.

While European governments have committed to taking gender balance into account when picking the next ECB president and a successor to board member Benoit Coeure this year, the front-runners for the former position are almost all male.

ECB Staff

The ECB’s paper shows that -- at the staff level -- women are more likely to get promoted when they apply. Once they get the job, they do better financially than men.

Their lifetime income still suffers because it usually takes women longer to get to the top, especially if they have children, according to the paper co-written by Laura Hospido, Ana Lamo and ECB director general for research Luc Laeven. They looked at anonymous personnel data covering 2003-2017 and recruitment campaigns from 2012-2017.

“Taken together these results suggest that institutional efforts to boost the fraction of women in the ranks of male-dominated organization should include measures aimed at lowering the barriers for women to seek and apply for promotion opportunities,” the researchers said.

Such measures include mentoring programs and female networks that offer interview training as well as child support benefits and service, they said.

The ECB aims to raise the share of women in management positions to 35 percent and to 28 percent for senior managers by the end of this year. In the first quarter, the numbers stood at 29.7 percent and 26.5 percent, respectively. The share of female senior managers more than tripled in the last seven years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Piotr Skolimowski in Frankfurt at pskolimowski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Jana Randow, Lucy Meakin

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