The Government has set a target of getting 50 percent representation of women on state sector boards by 2021.
"It is the fair thing to do," Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter wrote in her foreword to the Gender Stocktake report.
More than 2600 appointments are made to state sector boards every year.
"By making sure the public sector has equal representation at the top, we hope to inspire the private sector to lift its game," Ms Genter said.
As it stands, state sector boards are close to hitting that target.
Women made up 45.7 percent of state sector boards and committees in December 2017.
National's spokesperson for women Paula Bennett says National's policy settings encouraged more women into leadership roles.
"National has led by example. We had a strong line-up of women in senior Cabinet positions, which we've carried through to Opposition shadow portfolios, and will continue when we return to Government."
The Ministry of Women report says women make up fewer than 19 percent of NZX directorships and 19 percent of executive management in the private sector.
Women are also paid an average of 9.4 percent less than men, with the gap growing at the upper end of the scale, the report says. It says addressing representation on boards helps close the gap.