The European Parliament's economic affairs committee Monday voted down the nomination of Luxembourg's Yves Mersch to the European Central Bank board, castigating the EU for not putting up women candidates.
The committee, in a resolution passed by 21 votes to 12 with 13 absentions, called on the European Council to withdraw Mersch's candidacy, saying his appointment would mean that the ECB executive board would be all male up until 2018.
It expressed its "dissatisfaction with member states for repeatedly refusing to recognise the need for a better gender balance" at the ECB, a statement said.
Committee chairman Sharon Bowles of Britain said it was the right decision.
"We are objecting to the EU's most powerful institution being run only by men for the next six years. It is not only the need for gender balance we are stressing, an issue laudable in itself," Bowles said.
"At a time when we are doing all that we can to change the culture of financial services and to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis, it is baffling that member states are not pushing for more women in key finance positions."
Luxembourg central bank chief Mersch, heard for an hour by the committee, told members that his nomination had followed proper procedures and voiced his support for gender equality.
Despite the committee's stand, the nomination now goes to a full parliament vote Thursday and it is possible that European Council president Herman Van Rompuy will raise the issue when he addresses the chamber in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
European governments have the ultimate power to decide the appointment after consultation with parliament.
Mersch was named in July to the post but parliament initially refused to hear him in committee, the first step of the process, in protest at the absence of female candidates.
The ECB's executive board, which determines monetary policy, has six members and combined with the 17 eurozone central bank governors comprises its governing council, currently all men.
The last woman on the ECB board was Austria's Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell between 1998 and 2011 who was replaced by Peter Praet of Belgium in preference to Slovakia's Elena Kohutikova.
Eurozone finance ministers nominated Mersch in July to replace Spain's Manuel Gonzalez Paramo.