Some 22 per cent of professors – 4,415 out of 19,750 in total - were female in 2013-14 compared with just 15 per cent in 2003-04, according to a report by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The report, titled Staff in Higher Education 2013-14, which was published on 26 February, also says 45 per cent of the UK’s 194,245 academic staff are women.
A third of senior academic staff, excluding professors, are women, the report explains.
Women outnumber men in non-academic positions, taking 63 per cent of around 201,000 non-academic staff roles, it adds. Some 54 per cent of managerial, professional and technical staff, and 82 per cent of clerical staff, are women, Hesa also says.
The statistics also show the age of the UK’s academic workforce, indicating that about 3 per cent of staff (5,245 people) are older than the previous default retirement age of 65, which was scrapped in 2011.
Around 9 per cent of professors are over the age of 65, it adds.
Hesa also says there are 25 professors under the age of 30 working in the UK, of whom 10 are women.
Among those to previously gain the accolade at such a young age include Mervyn King, the former Bank of England governor, who became the University of Birmingham’s youngest professor in the late 1970s when he was given a chair at the age of 29.
Enoch Powell, the controversial former Tory MP and minister, was made a professor of classics at the University of Sydney at the age of 25, while philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche became a professor at the University of Basel aged 24 – before he had completed his PhD.