The amount of women on UK bank boards has almost doubled since the credit crunch, according to research by Astbury Marsden.

Research by the financial services recruitment firm revealed that 20% of board directors are now women across the top five biggest UK lenders, up from 12% in 2007.

But the representation of women on UK bank boards lags behind that of the biggest continental European banks, where women now make up 25% of directors, up from just 10% in 2007.

"It is now widely accepted that we need a much greater representation of women on boards and at other senior levels within banks," said Mark Cameron, chief operating officer of Astbury Marsden.

"UK banks recognise this problem and they are gradually closing the gap. More effort is going into mentoring women throughout the ranks and making sure they take advantage of executive training."

The analysis shows that UK banks are not far off the target set by Lord Davies in the Women on Boards initiative, which encourages FTSE 100 companies to aim for their board of directors to consist of at least 25% women by 2015.

"The figures are encouraging but it's part of a wider review of bank governance since the financial crisis of 2008," stressed Helena Morrissey, chief executive officer of Newton Investment Management and founder of campaign group the 30 Percent Club.

"There's no doubt prior to the crisis the banks' boards had lots of people cut from the same cloth. But banks have done as much as they could have done [to address the issue] in a relatively short space of time."

The news follows an IBTimes UK interview with the Financial Ombudsman Service's (FoS) chief executive Natalie Ceeney, in which she said that women are being prevented from moving into senior level financial services positions because of a male-dominated culture and recruitment policies rather than childcare-related issues.