A survey of leading Scottish businesswomen has found that most believe a glass ceiling still exists in the workplace.
The research carried out by the legal firm Tods Murray said that 57% had experience of the gender barrier.
Nearly a third of the women blamed the need for longer hours as a barrier to getting ahead and 29% said the lack of encouragement was also a factor.
However, the vast majority of the women rejected gender quotas for boardrooms.
The EU is planning to introduce quotas forcing companies to fill at least a fifth of their top jobs with women if the private sector does not increase female representation in the boardroom over the next year.
Fiona Buchanan, a banking and finance partner at Tods Murray, said: "It is clear that while more and more women are coming into the business arena, very few are making it into the boardrooms of Scotland's companies and organisations.
"We want to understand the barriers and the routes to success for Scotland's business women."
'Tenacity and ambition'
A total of 96 women, in mainly senior management and board positions, were questioned to find out why there was a lack of women in top jobs, ahead of a debate on the issue.
Of those who said they had successfully broken through the glass ceiling, 88% felt that they had to make some sacrifices along the way and those who chose not to did so for positive lifestyle reasons.
Susan Rice, managing director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland - and the first woman to head a UK clearing bank, opened the debate and questioned whether glass ceilings existed.
She said: "As soon as we start blaming them for lack of success, we have given up trying. Taking our place in the boardroom requires hard work, tenacity, ambition and aspiration."
She added: "Being there can be stimulating and exciting - for some, though not for others. But the only way to find out is to reach for it."