THE number of female company directors is falling sharply, a new report has revealed.

The Duport Business Confidence Report shows just 23 per cent of director appointments in Oxfordshire were female in the first half of 2012 compared to more than 30 per cent in the first half of 2009.

But the number of directors under 25 is on the rise with appointments rising from 0.12 per cent in the first half of 2003 to 5.5 per cent for the same period this year.

Nationally 4.8 per cent of director appointments during the first half of 2012 were under 25.

Kate Allen, managing director of Oxford recruitment agency Allen Associates, said: “The decline in female directors has been a national trend since 2003.

“Clearly it is very disappointing but the rate of decline in Oxfordshire as a whole shows no difference to the national average suggesting this is a nationwide rather than regional problem.

“And it is refreshing to note growth has been achieved through an increase in the number of new companies combined with a significant decrease in those companies failing.”

Bosses at business services specialist Duport say the effects of the recession have hit women in particular with redundancies rising.

Managing director Peter Valaitis said: “It is heartening to see that so many young people are becoming directors, and shows entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well among the younger population.

“The decrease in female directors is less encouraging, but the peak of female director appointments in 2009 shows there are opportunities for women in Oxford. Hopefully we’ll see another rise during the next couple of years.”