The Higher Education Authority is launching a review of gender equality at Ireland's third-level institutions.
The body says the problem is systemic and this review will be a starting point in addressing the issue.
The review will be chaired by former European Commissioner Minister Máire Geoghan Quinn.
CEO of the HEA, Tom Boland, says Ireland is not alone in the lack of women in senior academic positions.
He said: "Now you have beacons, the University of Limerick is one such beacon, but right across the developed world you have this problem of low representation of women in senior academic positions.
"And of course, it is symptomatic of a broader social issue of the role of women in senior positions in business and public service and so on."