It also showed that barely half – 52% – of HR leaders think lack of female progression is a problem for organisations.
The report, Focus on the pipeline: Engaging the full potential of female middle managers, highlighted a high level of frustration at the lack of opportunity and clarity of career path that female talent is experiencing at middle management level.
The report, based on UK research involving 400 female middle managers and 200 senior leaders, from SMEs and corporates across a range of sectors, found a striking difference between HR leaders' views and the concerns of female middle managers themselves. Although 81% of female middle managers feel lack of progression is a problem, just 62% of HR leaders agree.
The report said lack of opportunity and a low chance of progression within the company are aspects of work female workers are least satisfied with.
Karen Gill, co-founder of business network, Everywoman, said: "After 13 years of working with women in business, we know all about the frustrations and challenges that women face.
"While diversity is much more front of mind than several years ago, some companies still don't know where to start to unlock the productivity of their female middle managers."
Rosaleen Blair, founder and CEO of Alexander Mann, said: "This is a wealth of valuable experience and expertise that businesses will be losing, often to competitors. Addressing the pipeline for female talent should be a major focus for businesses of all sizes."
The online survey was conducted in September 2012 of 400 female middle managers and 200 senior leaders.