Only 19.8 per cent of 17,465 professors in the UK are women, show statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The data, published on 1 March, covers the academic year 2010-11.
The figures show that 44.2 per cent of all 181,185 academic staff in UK universities are women. The 2009-10 figure was 44 per cent.
The statistics also reveal that 16.7 per cent of professors and 24.8 per cent of all academic staff were from outside the UK. The academic staff figure compares with 24 per cent in 2009-10 and 20.5 per cent in 2005-06.
For ethnic groups, the data show a marked increase in academics with Asian ethnicity, rising from 4.6 per cent in 2005-06 and 5.2 per cent in 2009-10 to 7.9 per cent in 2010-11.
The number of black academics decreased from 2.8 per cent in 2009-10 to 1.6 per cent in 2010-11.
The percentage of white academic staff fell from 90.2 per cent in 2009-10 to 87.6 per cent in 2010-11.
HESA compiled the data using a snapshot of staff in higher education institutions on 1 December 2010. The data split staff by gender, academic field and mode of employment covering 131 institutions in England, 11 in Wales, 19 in Scotland and four in Northern Ireland.
In total, HESA says, 381,790 staff were employed at the institutions on 1 December 2010. Of these, 48 per cent were academic staff; 4 per cent were non-academic managers; and 48 per cent were other non-academic staff.
The statistics were published simultaneously with a university-staff analysis by the University and College Union that looked at the ratio between managers and academics in UK institutions.
It showed that the number of managers in UK universities has risen by 40 per cent since 2003-04, more than twice the rate of academics in the same time period. The number of academics, it says, has risen 19 per cent.
“Despite the fact that there has been a large increase in the number of students in recent years, there has been a larger increase in the number of managers than academics,” said UCU general secretary Sally Hunt in a statement.
“We have raised fears about the changing nature of universities as the market in higher education continues to grow. However, institutions and government must never lose sight of universities’ key roles in teaching and challenging students. That is always going to require top-quality staff given the time and resources to perform those roles.”