Phil Gormley said no women had applied for two assistant chief constable roles, which are currently held by female officers when asked about the issue while giving evidence at Westminster’s Home Affairs Select Committee this week.
Victoria Atkins MP said females accounted for just 29 per cent of Scottish officers and asked the chief constable what his force was doing to recruit and retain women.
Mr Gormley said Police Scotland had “diversity challenges” including the representation of women and those from ethnic minorities.
He said: “The situation we are in is not one I want to remain in. At the top of my organisation, I have two women assistant chief constables and one woman deputy chief constable.
“Those two women assistant chief constable are retiring this year. We’ve gone out for replacements and no further women came forward. We do have a significant challenge in terms of (career) progression, not so much (in) recruitment.
“The level of female officers against males coming at the entry point of the organisation is much healthier. But we don’t get the progression through the ranks I would want to see.”
Mr Gormley agreed with Ms Atkins that the lack of female applicants was “worrying”.
He said the number of women coming through the College of Policing’s strategic command course for senior officers was low.
And he said it was a “big ask” for senior female police officers working elsewhere in the UK to “uproot” their families and come to Scotland.
Assistant Chief Constable Kate Thomson, whose role covers local policing in the east of the country, and Assistant Chief Constable Val Thomson, whose portfolio includes Police Scotland’s control rooms, are those retiring from the force.
Police Scotland’s most senior female officer is Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick.
Claire Baker, Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman, said: “It’s really concerning that there will be less representation of women in senior roles. Police Scotland need to make it easier for women to advance through the ranks and it must be a top priority for the force going forward.”