PAST councillors say the lack of women on councils is fuelled by the battle high-calibre candidates have in building their profiles in the community.
Their comments come in response to a Office of Local Government report that said NSW has the lowest percentage of female representation at elections spanning across 2016 and 2017, compared to other states and territories.
Of the elected councillors, just 31 per cent were women in NSW, while Tasmania led the way at 40 per cent.
At a local level, two of the nine councillor positions on Wagga council were filled by female representatives. But the city is yet to elect its first female mayor.
Former councillor Kay Hull, who served on council from 1991 to 1998, said she struggled to understand why high-calibre female candidates were not securing enough votes.
She said the city is not short on female candidates, but she has wondered whether they are developing a profile for themselves.
"Local government voters tend to focus on whether they know that person through volunteer organisations, sporting groups, charities and have developed a profile as a result," she said.
"Credible women [are] putting their hands-up and I don't know if they need a better platform for their profile and if the media can profile those female leaders in our community."
From her personal experience of Wagga council, Ms Hull said gender bias was non-existent and rightly so.
She said every councillor has a voice that should be respected and given the opportunity to be heard, but if faced with mistreatment her advice is "don't look for it, don't expect it and don't accept it".
"Drive and strive forward with your views and contributions to this city because that is what you have been voted in for," she said.
Council's longest serving female councillor Mary Kidson, who served from 1977 to 1999, said the group ticket system used during local elections does not set women up for success.
Although voters support women candidates, she said a person's position on the ticket is important - but females are not often at the top.
"I think it is the group system and they rarely put a women on top of the ticket ... and you don't know how many preferences you are going to get," she said.
In other news:
"By-and-large, some of the women on council - I exclude Kay Hull because she was excellent - tended to be influenced by the people whose ticket they were on."
Just how party politics has no place in council, according to Mrs Kidson, she said gender needs to be left at the door.
She said a councillor's views should not be judged with gender in mind.
"Be a team player, be an individual and remember there are lots of women out there who will support you - and lots of men," she said.
"Do your history, develop an occasional quick response and don't think about defending yourself, the best form of defence is attack. It is undesirable, but ... don't take no nonsense."