EXCLUSIVE-Women make up 34.8% of leadership of private German banks

(Updates with context, politician, study, graphic)

FRANKFURT, June 1 (Reuters) - Women made up 34.8% of leadership positions at private banks in Germany in 2020, figures from the bank employment lobby AGV Banken show, as the country makes stuttering progress on increasing female representation at the top of the corporate sector.

That is up from less than 10% at the start of the 1990s, and 34.3% in 2019. But growth has tapered in recent years and calls for action from politicians and investors are growing louder.

The banks, recognising that more needs to be done, say they are taking steps to promote gender balance even as staff cuts and major overhauls complicate matters. Some, like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, have set female representation goals of 35%, which some critics say lack zeal.

“The financial sector is a male domain. This must be disrupted,” said Cansel Kitzeltepe, a member of German parliament on its finance committee.

“German financial leaders must finally make room for more diversity in the upper echelons,” she said.

A study by Boston Consulting Group and the Technical University of Munich found that Germany is behind major economies like Britain and France in female representation on boards. Britain will reach gender parity on boards in 2034, and France in 2039, but it will take until 2053 before Germany reaches that point.

Nicole Voigt, a managing director of Boston Consulting and an author of the report, criticized lack of ambition.

“We are half the population,” she said. “The ambition should be equality. I know its hard to reach, but why not equality rather than just saying 35%?”

Reporting by Tom Sims and Patricia Uhlig, Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Angus MacSwan