A LEADING Scottish university is taking steps to attract more women to serve on its governing body.

The move by Strathclyde University, in Glasgow, follows widespread concern that the ruling bodies of Scottish universities are dominated by men.

Last month, The Herald revealed just 25% of members of university ruling Courts are female, despite the fact women academics make up more than half of the workforce.

The figures for 2011/12 also show none of the chairs of university Courts are women.

The lack of women on governing bodies was described as stark and alarming by Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, who indicated he may legislate to improve gender balance.

Strathclyde University is currently advertising for new members for its Court and has made a specific call for female applicants, as well as those from ethnic minorities.

The advertisement states: "The governing body plays a key role in shaping the university's strategy and overseeing the effective management of the institution.

"The majority of its members are drawn from outside the university and the university is seeking expressions of interest from individuals who believe they can contribute to our success, and to the success of a sector central to Scotland's economic, social and educational development.

"Expressions of interest are particularly welcomed from women and ethnic minorities."

A spokeswoman said about one-third of the current members of Court were female, a much higher proportion than at many other institutions, but she stressed the importance of the university being active in ensuring that remained the case.

She added: "The university is committed to ensuring its governing body reflects society."

Hazel Marzetti, a spokeswoman for NUS Scotland, which represents students, welcomed the move by Strathclyde.

However, she said more had to be done across the sector to improve the gender balance.

She added: "University boards are not reflective of the fact that over half of our population, over half of our students and over half of academics are women and we need to see those in charge of universities reflect the people they work for.

"It's great that universities like Strathclyde are trying to encourage more diversity on its governing board and they should be applauded.

"However, the true test of our colleges and universities is who is appointed to the board, not who they advertise for."

Ms Marzetti said voluntary measures were not enough and added: "We need legislation to ensure we have gender balance right at the heart of our education system."

The current Post-16 Education (Scotland) Bill aims to put in place a new code of conduct for universities, which could require each governing body to ensure at least 40% of its membership is female.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Russell said last month: "I do think there is room for improvement. I will consider whether an amendment should be laid to take that further.

"I know there is the suggestion that there should be a proportion or a percentage and I will actively consider that."